WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added 428,000 jobs in April, extending a strong hiring streak that defied punitive inflation, chronic supply shortages, Russia’s war on Ukraine and rising labor costs. much higher loan.
Friday’s jobs report from the Labor Department showed last month’s hiring kept the unemployment rate at 3.6%, just above the lowest level in half a century.
The economy’s hiring gains have been remarkably steady in the face of the worst inflation in four decades. Employers have added at least 400,000 jobs for 12 consecutive months.
Still, it’s unclear how long the jobs boom will continue. The Federal Reserve this week raised its key rate by half a percentage point – its most aggressive move since 2000 – and announced further significant rate hikes to come. As Fed rate hikes take effect, they will make it increasingly expensive for consumers and businesses to borrow, spend and hire.
In addition, the vast economic aid that the government gave to households has expired. And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has contributed to accelerating inflation and clouded the economic outlook. Some economists warn of a growing risk of recession.
For now, the resilience of the labor market is particularly striking against a backdrop of soaring prices and rising borrowing costs. This week, the Labor Department provided further evidence that the labor market is still booming. He reported that just 1.38 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment benefits, the fewest since 1970. And he said employers posted a record 11.5 million job openings in March and that layoffs remained well below pre-pandemic levels.
In addition, the economy now has an average of two jobs available for every unemployed person. This is the highest proportion ever recorded.
And in another sign that workers are enjoying unusual leverage in the labor market, a record 4.5 million people quit their jobs in March, clearly convinced they could find a better opportunity elsewhere. .
Chronic shortages of goods, supplies and labor have contributed to skyrocketing prices – the highest rate of inflation in 40 years. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February has dramatically worsened the financial landscape, sending global oil and gas prices skyrocketing and severely clouding the domestic and global economic picture.
Meanwhile, with many industries slowed by labor shortages, companies have raised wages to try to attract applicants and retain existing employees. Even so, wage increases have not kept pace with soaring consumer prices.
That’s why the Fed, which most economists say has been far too slow to recognize the inflationary threat, is now raising rates aggressively. Its goal is notoriously difficult: a so-called soft landing.