Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

In each Economic Update, the Research staff analyzes recently released economic indicators and addresses what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses the unemployment rate and payroll data.

  • While the unemployment rate fell another notch in April, payroll data today showed a disappointingly low number of net new jobs added to the economy.
  • The unemployment rate fell from 8.2 percent in March to 8.1 percent in April.  This is nearly a percentage point improvement over last April’s 9.0 percent rate.
  • One data point that tempers the good news on the unemployment rate is the shrinking of the labor force.  However, there is a counterpoint: labor force data is highly variable.  While the labor force has declined by nearly half a million workers in March and April, data from January and February showed that nearly a million people entered the labor force.
  • On net, 115,000 jobs were added to payrolls in April, this included an increase of 130,000 in private payrolls and a further shrinkage of 15,000 on government payrolls.
  • The average workweek for all private payroll employees was unchanged in April at 34.5 hours and hourly earnings rose $0.01 in the month and are up 1.8 percent over the year.  Because hours have increased from a year ago, weekly earnings are up 2.1 percent.
  • Continued availability of labor and slow job growth may keep earnings from rising much going forward, but job stability which may be indicated by yesterday’s jobless claims data coupled with modest growth in earnings may give consumers the confidence they need to make major purchases, such as that of a home, that they delayed when uncertainty was high.

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