Unemployment Rate Drops To 5.4% Nationwide; Black Unemployment Rate Down To 9.6%

May 8, 2015  |  

The US economy added 233,000 during the month of April, a marked improvement from what we saw last month when only 192,000 jobs were created. (And that figured was actually revised to a lower figure, 85,000, upon closer inspection.) The news puts the economy back on the stronger track that we were seeing in 2014.

It also brought the unemployment rate down from 5.5 percent to 5.4 percent, the lowest point since May 2008. That was at the beginning stages of the Great Recession.

“The jobless rate is moving closer to the Federal Reserve’s expectation of ‘full’ employment, which it pegs between 5% and 5.2%,” writes The Wall Street Journal

The landscape is still a tough one for Blacks, with an unemployment rate of 9.6 percent. But that’s down from 10.1 percent last month.

And those who are locked in part-time jobs or have given up the search dropped from 10.9 percent 10.8 percent. Labor force participation is 62.8 percent, a historic low.

Overall, experts say a number of factors drove the jobs slowdown of the last few months, including bad weather and a labor dispute that kept goods from going in and out of the country through Western ports.  Inc. also argues that factors like a healthier homes and construction sector along with a normalized dollar value versus foreign currencies will help. Average Americans weren’t the only ones hurt by the varying factors. Even tech companies, which have been solid for some time now, were hit.

But, analysts predict, these are all temporary conditions. What has persisted — and what continues to hurt consumers — is wage stagnation. “Workers’ hourly wages grew 3 cents to $24.87 and were up 2.2% from a year earlier. That growth is still modest, but it comes amid other signs wages are slowly picking up from the weak 2% annual pace of recent years,” the Journal added.

The move to increase minimum wages across the state and federal level indicates that the government recognizes a need to increase income to meet the cost of living. Moreover, the willingness for more companies to increase wages shows that competition for a strong, competent staff is heating up, a situation that favors workers. Wages will likely continue to increase, though, of course, we’d all like to see them go up faster.

Via BLS, the AP, New York Times

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