The unemployment rate is down significantly from the 8% we were experiencing at the beginning of 2013—at 5.4% in April of this year—its lowest since the Spring of 2008. Add to that the fact that 223,000 jobs were added by employers in April and it might suggest that we’re gaining steam in the fight against unemployment. This should be considered a significant increase from the initially reported 126,000 jobs added in March as that number was later revised to a meek 85,000.
Unfortunately, with all this good news the growth failed to translate into any significant improvements in pay as hourly earnings only rose 0.1% in April, producing an annual gain of 2.2%. Any meaningful wage gains are still delayed, though experts are stating that they do anticipate pay to grow as long as unemployment rates remains low.
While a majority of job sectors, including business services, construction, and health care, are doing well it appears the hardest hit sector is energy. Even though energy prices rose recently, energy companies have been eliminating jobs, by more than 10,000 in the month of April alone, the worst loss for this particular sector since the Spring of 2009.
Last year was the best year for job gains since 1999, and if the labor force continues to grow at a steady pace, optimists believe the U.S. economy will continue to expand in 2015. What we can’t argue is that for right now the economy is turning in the right direction.