The U.S. economy added the fewest number of jobs in seven months in April and Americans dropped out of the labor force in droves, signs of weakness that cast doubts on whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates before the end of the year.
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 160,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.0%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, health care, and financial activities. Job losses continued in mining.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, posting the biggest gain in more than a year, but the underlying trend continued to point to a strengthening labor market.
U.S. economic growth braked sharply in the first quarter to its slowest pace in two years as consumer spending softened and a strong dollar continued to undercut exports, but a pick-up in activity is anticipated given a buoyant labor market.
Even the middle of April still tends to be firm on early quarter investment inflows and quarterly corporate earnings report responses. It is no secret that 70% of all corporate earnings reports beat estimates each quarter regardless of economic conditions. That is due to downbeat original estimates, where earnings reports are then predictably a bit better than expected. The current Q1 2016 reports have been very typical in that regard.