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Hiring slowed in April. The U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs


Hiring slowed last month, although the U.S. job market is still strong. A report from the Labor Department this morning shows U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs in April. That's the smallest increase in six months. NPR's Scott Horsley has been looking at the report, and he's with us now to tell us more about it. Good morning, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, Michel.

MARTIN: So what stands out to you?

HORSLEY: Well, this is certainly a downshift in the pace of job growth, but not a dramatic one. Most industries continued to add jobs in April. Health care employers added more than 50,000 jobs. Retailers added 20,000. Construction companies added about 9,000 jobs. There are only a handful of industries that were actually cutting workers, including temporary help services and information. That's a kind of catchall category that includes a lot of the tech sector.

Forecasters have been expecting some slowdown in hiring for months now. But economist Nick Bunker, who's with the Indeed Hiring Lab, says the job market has proven to be remarkably resilient even in the face of today's high interest rates.

NICK BUNKER: The labor market over the last few years has defied expectations in many ways. It's nice to have your expectations defied in a positive way.

HORSLEY: Job growth for March was actually revised up in this report. The unemployment rate in April did inch up a little bit from 3.8 to 3.9%, but that's still very low by historical standards. It's now been under 4% for more than two full years.

MARTIN: You know, given that, Scott, are businesses still able to find the workers they need?

HORSLEY: Generally speaking, yes. And you can see that in the wage figures in today's report. Wages are still going up, but they're not going up as fast as they had been. And that suggests employers are not having to compete quite as hard to find workers. That moderation in wage growth is important if we want to get inflation under control.

And what's helping here is that the pool of available employees continues to grow. Some people, especially working-age women who had been on the sidelines, have decided to start working or come back into the job market. And, of course, we've also been helped by a rise in immigration.

MARTIN: And, Scott, you know, this is also the time of year when a lot of newly minted college graduates come into the workforce - at least that's what their parents are hoping. What kind of welcome are they finding?

HORSLEY: Pretty good. You know, the unemployment rate for people with a four-year college degree is just 2.2%. Starting salaries for new college grads are holding up pretty well. Obviously, finding that first job out of school is always a little bit nerve-wracking for both students and their parents. But Nela Richardson, who's chief economist at the payroll processing company ADP, says the class of '24 is in relatively good shape.

NELA RICHARDSON: College graduates have had much worse landscapes in terms of labor market and graduation rates. So I would say that this one is pretty good. It may not be an A-plus market, but definitely a B-plus market.

HORSLEY: You know, contrast that with the people who came out of college four years ago into an economy that was hemorrhaging jobs and where the unemployment rate was almost 15% - certainly today's graduates are much better off.

MARTIN: Well, it sure sounds like it. That is NPR's Scott Horsley. Scott, thank you.

HORSLEY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.