The U.S. economy had a net gain of 164,000 last month. Unemployment — which had stood at 4.1 percent since October 2017 — fell to 3.9 percent, according to Friday’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The last time the U.S. jobless percentage sat below 4 percent was in 1999, when unemployment stayed at 3.9 percent for the final four months of the year.
Economic analysts had predicted a gain of more than 190,000 jobs in April. They also expected to see the unemployment level drop slightly.
Despite falling short of expectations, the numbers represent a rebound from the previous month: The initial report for March had said only 103,000 jobs were added. That number was revised to a gain of 135,000 jobs in today’s report.
Average hourly pay for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 4 cents, to $26.84.
Coming into this month, “wages showed a moderate 2.7 percent annual increase,” NPR’s John Ydstie reported. “Analysts have been expecting wages to rise more rapidly, as the number of available workers shrinks.”
One sector that saw job growth was professional and business services, which got a boost of 54,000 positions. As the BLS said, “Over the past 12 months, the industry has added 518,000 jobs.”
Also on the upswing: manufacturing and health care, both of which saw a gain of 24,000 jobs.
As for how much of the U.S. is working, the BLS said, “Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.8 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.3 percent, changed little in April.”