For the first time in 18 years, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped below 4% to 3.9%, as employers added another 164,000 workers to payrolls, marking the 91st consecutive months of job gains.
Sure, the number was weaker than the projected 193,000, however:
“While the job numbers came in below expectations, the reality is that the economy is still on relatively solid ground, and the labor market is quite strong. This will likely not change the outcome of the Fed meeting in June, as layoffs are few, the Fed is now closer to its inflation target of 2% than it has been in quite some time, and raising interest rates is still necessary,” said Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group, as quoted by Fox Business.
Plus, consider this. Month-to-month numbers can – and will jump around. Not even the most trusted analysts on the Street can routinely predict where they will be.
As a matter of fact, most projections have been way off over the last few months.
In February 2018, for example, analysts called for 205,000 jobs. We got 313,000. For March 2018, analysts called for the addition of 185,000 jobs. We got 103,000.
And while wages only increased by 2.6% over the last year (not much faster than inflation), one of the reasons for that is that high-earning baby boomers are leaving the labor force for retirement and are being replaced by younger workers that are starting at much lower salaries.
“Fed officials can rest easy that there is not any wage-based inflation on the horizon,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG, as quoted by Reuters. “There is no need to speed up the path of interest rates because inflation isn’t heating up in a worrisome manner.”
Other than that, manufacturing jobs increased by 24,000 in April 2018.
Health care added another 24,000 jobs, and 305,000 over the last year. Mining jobs increased by 8,000. Financial activities saw the addition of 19,000 jobs. Government jobs were up by 27,000.
Construction jobs rebounded by another 17,000 last month, too.
Going forward, economists expect the unemployment rate to sink to 3.5% this year, as jobs growth continues to impress. Job gains now average 200,000 a month this year, way more than the 120,000 needed to keep up with growth in the working-age population, notes Reuters.
Even more impressive, the U-6, a broader measure of unemployment, which includes people who want to work but have given up on their jobs search fell to 7.8% in April 2018. That’s the lowest level since July 2001.
In short, the economy is doing just fine. Even better, the major indices are beginning to recover after plunging from an early 2018 high to a recent low of 23,778.
With plenty of opportunities to be had, The Cheap Investor will be recommending more great stocks in its next issue.