The U.S. must now be seen as operating at full employment.
If this sounds familiar, well, that's because it is. General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) topped the Fortune 500 list with $24.3 billion in revenue, the Dow traded years behind all-time highs in the low $800s and the S&P traded relatively low in the $90s.
The details, of course, have been different every month, but this big picture has not.
Business would be adding even more jobs if they could find the workers they want. Over the last 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 67 cents, or 2.6 percent, which is ahead of the rate of inflation (hovering around 2 percent), but not by much. (The record to beat: nine months.) The streak defied the expectations of economists, who said the nation's prolonged hiring blitz - an average of 202,000 new positions each month in 2018 - was bound to drive the figure down.
The US is reporting a major drop in the unemployment rate. The government counts people as unemployed only if they're actively looking for work.
"Under-employment" stands at 7.8 percent.
In April, it finally dropped below 4.0% to stand at 3.9%. The best you can say is there are signs that it might happen soon. "We expect the pace of job growth to be slowing because there's not going to be that many people to hire".
The usual headline unemployment rate (3.9% in April) is officially labeled U-3. Since then, though, it's only 2 percent. In other cases they are resorting to more automation.
Employers nationwide report the pool of available workers is drying up, forcing many to raise wages to attract qualified candidates, which raises concerns about inflation.
Our country's unemployment rate is under four percent, the lowest it's been since 2000. If that's the case, wage growth could take a leap in May.
The last time America's unemployment rate was this low, "Smooth" by Santana was topping the charts, and officials were still counting "hanging chads" in Broward County, Florida.
It might be that 4 percent unemployment is the new 5 percent unemployment: good, but not good enough.
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