U.S. Jobless Rate Falls below 4%, lowest level since 2000

According to the Labor Department, the U.S. jobless rate fell to 3.9% from 4.1% a month earlier, for the first time since late 2000. Employers added 164,000 jobs in April, a pickup from March and more than enough to keep up with population growth, suggesting available workers are becoming scarcer in a tightening labor market.

However, workers’ wages surprisingly continued to grow sluggishly despite the historically low unemployment rate. Wages grew 4 cents over the month and 2.6% over the past year, strong enough to keep paychecks slightly ahead of cost-of-living increases.

Employers have been adding jobs every month since October 2010, the longest period of unimpeded job growth on record. But the Friday’s report still suggested an obstacle encountered by employers: Too few available workers. Employers have stepped up hiring this spring—they’ve added an average 208,000 jobs over the past three months, well above last year’s monthly average of 182,000.

According to Wall Street Journal, despite low unemployment, employers to continue to have leverage in pay negotiations, with wage growth failing to break out of modest growth. Hourly pay for private-sector workers rose, on average, 0.15% from a month earlier to $26.84 in April.

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