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What employers need to know about the April jobs report

The economy added 263,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate hit a near-50-year low, further tightening the labor market. Here’s what you need to know.

What employers need to know about the April jobs report

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly jobs report this morning, leading with the addition of 263,000 jobs to the economy in April. Average hourly wages increased by six cents, while the unemployment rate declined to 3.6%. Here’s the big news from April’s report.

  1. U.S. Companies Added the Most Jobs in Nine Months in April.

A true sign that hiring remains strong amid solid economic growth, both the private and public sectors showed increased job growth, well above economist predictions. Earlier this week, payroll processor ADP reported the growth of 275,000 jobs in the private sector last month—the most job creation that sector has experienced in nine months. Adding to the good news, the BLS showed 263,000 jobs, outpacing Wall Street expectations of 180,000 and above the average monthly gain of 213,000.

Job Growth:

While this is great job news, you may have the Census Bureau to thank for the uptick in jobs. The Census Bureau traditionally hires temporary workers for the decennial census, and while the census itself won’t be until next year, the Department has been known to start some of the hiring a year in advance. MarketWatch estimates that in April, the Census hired about 40,000 temporary workers. Still, even if you were to subtract those Census workers from the overall count, a monthly gain of 223,000 jobs is still a strong number in the eyes of the economy.

  1. Construction Jobs Continue to Build.

Employment in construction expanded by 33,000 in April, with gains in nonresidential specialty trade contractors (+22,000), and in heavy and civil engineering construction (+10,000). Over the past year, construction has added 256,000 jobs. While the construction industry has been sending mixed signals for the past year, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) says contractors are optimistic about the demand for jobs in the industry.

Other industries that saw growth in April include professional and business services (76,000 jobs), health care (27,000 jobs), social assistance (26,000 jobs), financial activities (+12,000), and manufacturing (+4,000).

Industries Hiring:

  1. Retail Brick and Mortar Jobs Shift to Ecommerce.

Marking its third-straight decline, unsurprisingly the only industry that experienced major job losses in April was the retail sector. While the overall sector saw a decline of 12,000 jobs, mostly in general merchandise stores, motor vehicle and parts dealers actually saw an increase of 8,000 jobs.

This goes to show that brick and mortar retail jobs are increasingly shifting toward ecommerce. Since 2007, the ecommerce sector, including fulfillment centers, has created more than 355,000 new jobs—a number Forbes reports that is much larger than the retail losses. As retail employers transition to ecommerce, hiring teams should look to transition the traditional jobs of cashier, store clerk, and merchandiser into web development, digital marketing, and customer service jobs.

  1. Unemployment Rate Hits 50-Year Low.

In April, the unemployment rate declining from 3.8% to 3.6%, the lowest rate since December 1969. Coupled with April’s high job growth, the labor market is further tightening. Of course, it’s no secret employers struggle to find talent. (That’s why we’re here to help, after all.) While higher pay can be used as as tactic to attract quality candidates, it’s clear not every employer is prepared to raise payroll costs, with average hourly earnings growth unchanged at 3.2%.

Employers: Have no fear. There are minimal expectations for inflation from the Federal Reserve, meaning prices likely won’t be increasing anytime soon. Rather than looking to increase pay, employers should look at overall compensation packages to attract candidates. Flexible work options, increased paid time off, bonuses, other benefits like workplace wellness programs are all ways to bulk up compensation packages without increasing wages.


  1. Workers Productivity is at Near-Decade High.

Despite slow wage increases, worker productivity accelerated at the fastest pace during the first quarter of 2019 in almost a decade. Nonfarm worker output increased 3.6%—the most since the third quarter of 2010—according to the BLS. The Wall Street Journal says such a leap in efficiency so long after the end of the last recession may point to continued economic expansion and sets the stage for faster wage growth. As such, the BLS jobs report showed that average hourly wages increased by six centers, totaling $27.77 in April. Greater efficiency makes it easier for employers to raise wages without cutting into profits, and the tight labor market—dropping to a near-50-year low of 3.6%—is a great incentive to do so.

Wage Growth:

The next jobs report is due June 7, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. EST. In the meantime, see how Monster can help drive job growth at your organization.