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Lowest Unemployment Since 1969? Far Out, Man!
Just don't shout 'Well turn it up man!' at the Federal Reserve.
The monthly jobs numbers from the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics show the US added another 253,000 nonfarm jobs in April, continuing a jobs growth trend that's been pretty steady throughout the Biden administration. The job growth outperformed Wall Street forecasts of 180,000 new jobs, CNBC reports. The unemployment rate edged lower by a couple points, from 3.6 percent in March to 3.4 percent in April, tying January of this year for the record for the lowest unemployment rate since May 1969. Not only that, but Black unemployment is the lowest in our nation's history. To celebrate, let's play Gil Scott-Heron's "Whitey on the Moon" again, even if we're a couple months early for that anniversary.
In addition, the measure of discouraged workers and folks holding part-time jobs because that's all they can find, edged lower to 6.6 percent, suggesting this isn't one of those low unemployment stats resulting from people just giving up on finding work. (Correction: I initially called that the "labor force participation rate," which it is not. Wonkette regrets the error)
But wait! Is this gonna be one of those good-employment means inflation reports? Mmmmmaybe, says CNBC:
Average hourly earnings, a key inflation barometer, rose 0.5% for the month, more than the 0.3% estimate and the biggest monthly gain in a year. On an annual basis, wages increased 4.4%, higher than the expectation for a 4.2% gain. Both numbers raise the chances that the Federal Reserve could decide to raise interest rates again in June, though markets were only pricing in a small probability following the jobs report.
Or possibly not, since the Fed raised interest rates another quarter of a percentage point Wednesday, and suggested then that might be the last increase for a while. We're with Liz Warren on this: Jacking up interest too sharply to fight inflation is too likely to cause a recession, so knock it off for a while and see how inflation does, damn your eyes.
"The Fed is a one-trick pony," Warren said, arguing that raising interest rates can't address some of the causes of inflation in the last two years, like supply change kinks and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and of course price gouging by big corporations. So that's our sermon on that.
All in all, the economy seems to be doing fine, according to the economists who seem to live for the chance to put in their two cents for these monthly reports.
“It is encouraging to see a strong jobs report amid recession concerns, instability in the banking sector and ongoing layoffs,” said Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group. “We are hopeful the continued strength of the jobs market and signs of slowing inflation will ease market volatility in the coming months.”
Reuters also highlights some encouraging signs it picked out of the entrails of this and other reports:
The larger-than-expected increase in payrolls could be hinting at some spring revival in the economy after activity slowed in February and March.
Data this week showed manufacturing pulling off a three-year low and growth in the services sector picking up a bit. Motor vehicle sales also accelerated last month.
Oh, we hope they were EVs, too! Hey, EV sales have boomed for the whole first quarter of 2023, so that's neato, too. Tesla remains the top EV seller, but the compact Chevy Bolt is selling very well, too, just in time for the news that the Bolt will be discontinued near the end of 2022, to be replaced by several larger SUV/crossover style models and the introduction of Chevy's new electric pickup, the EV Silverado. Damn it, we still need small and affordable EVs you hosers, the end.
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