Key Economic Indicators – May 6, 2019

  • Total non-farm payroll employment rose 263 thousand in April, following an increase of 189 thousand in the previous month.   Private-sector payrolls increased by 236 thousand in the month, while government employment increased by 27 thousand. Notable job gains occurred in professional and business services, construction, health care, and social assistance.
  • The unemployment rate decreased to 3.6% in April, from 3.8% in March. The unemployment rate was 3.9% in April of 2018.
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours. Average hourly earnings increased by 6 cents to $27.77. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 3.2%.
  • The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.2 million in April and accounted for 21.1% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long term unemployed was down by 75 thousand.
  • The labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 62.8% in April but was unchanged from a year earlier.
  • First quarter productivity increased 3.6% (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the non-farm business sector, following a 1.3% increase in the final quarter of 2018. Unit labor costs decreased 0.9% in the first quarter of 2019, reflecting a 2.6% increase in hourly compensation and a 3.6% increase in productivity. From the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019, productivity increased 2.4%, as output increased 3.9%, and hours worked increased 1.5%.
  • Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.7%, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending in March 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages and salaries (which make up about 70% of compensation costs) increased 0.7% and benefit costs (which make up the remaining 30 percent of compensation) also increased 0.7% from December 2018.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment held steady at 230 thousand in the week ending April 27. The 4-week moving average was 212.5 thousand, an increase of 6.5 thousand from the previous week’s average.

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