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U.S. hiring slowed in April, missing estimates

The U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in April, less than in March and below what economists had expected. April’s rate also fell below the average monthly gain of 242,000 over the prior 12 months.

Meanwhile, the change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised up by 12,000, from 303,000 to 315,000, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. 

The national unemployment rate ticked up to 3.9% from 3.8% in March, but it’s still below the full employment rate of 4%. Since August 2023, the unemployment rate has hovered between 3.7% and 3.9%. The number of unemployed Americans also didn’t change much at 6.5 million, up from 6.4 million in March.

Additionally, Wednesday’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey (JOLTS) showed that the number of job openings across the country fell to a three-year low in March and the number of people quitting their jobs has started to decline.

Job gains were most notable in health care (+56,000), in social assistance(+31,000), and in transportation and warehousing (+22,000). Meanwhile, mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, information, financial activities, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality and other service, posted little change in April.

Average hourly earnings for private-sector employees grew by 0.2% month over month to $34.75 and were up 3.9% from a year ago.

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) maintained its short-term interest rate steady at a range of 5.25% to 5.5% on Wednesday as recent economic data didn’t give the Fed confidence that inflation will continue to decline. 

A slowing labor market can be both good and bad for the U.S. housing market, Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist at Bright MLS, observed.

“A softening labor market with less demand for workers and moderating wage growth would help put downward pressure on inflation and motivate the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates. Mortgage rates would also come down, making it less expensive for homebuyers to borrow money to purchase a home,” Sturtevant said.

“On the other hand, weakening labor market conditions and declining consumer confidence could also hold back would-be homebuyers. A pullback in housing demand, at the same time inventory is starting to increase, could lead to fewer home sales transactions and slow-growing, or even declining, home prices in some markets.” 

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