Job growth kicked back into gear in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, as the economy added 211,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.4 percent.
The growth in payrolls beat forecasters’ expectations, which were for job creation to recover from last month’s disappointing 98,000 number to around 185,000.
Friday’s report indicates that the underlying trend is stronger than one weak report would suggest, likely to provide a boost to President Trump and affirm the Federal Reserve in its plans for raising interest rates and tightening monetary policy this year.
Only about 50,000 to 100,000 jobs are needed each month to prevent unemployment from rising.
If job growth holds up at its current pace, unemployment will continue to fall and, economists expect, wage growth will accelerate, but Friday’s report showed hourly earnings growth slowing from 2.7 percent annually to 2.5 percent.
Still, unemployment is already below the rate that Fed officials believe would represent a fully healthy economy. Continued robust job growth would be a sign that there were even more workers sidelined by the recession willing to work than the Fed has thought all along.
Friday’s report hinted that there are indeed more people coming into the workforce. At 62.9 percent in April, the labor force participation rate has held steady since late 2013, defying the ongoing demographic trends pushing down on labor force participation. Since the start of the recession, workforce participation has plummeted, reflecting both the retirement of the Baby Boom generation and the fact that the downturn caused many people to simply drop the job hunt and fall out of the bureau’s calculation of the unemployed. In the past several years, though, it appears as though the cyclical part of the decline has reversed itself to some extent as more people are enticed to look for jobs, propping up labor force participation.
This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner