Economy Adds A Middling 164,000 Jobs In April

It all depends on your benchmark.

There was good news in today’s jobs report for April since the economy added 164,000 jobs, up from a revised 135,000 jobs in March. So yay! The jobs market rebounded from March weakness.

And there was bad news in the report since economists had been projecting that the economy would add 193,000 jobs.

My focus is on the disappointing wage numbers. Average hourly earnings grew by just 0.1% from March and are now up 2.6% year over year. That’s troublingly soft for an economy that could use a shot of consumer spending as interest rates rise and as the Fed steps, lightly, on the brakes.

The official unemployment rate fell to 3.9% from 4.1%. That’s the lowest this number has  been since December 2000.

The biggest improvement from March to April came in construction. The sector picked up 17,000 jobs in April after showing a decline in March. That’s more about weather than strength in the U.S. economy unfortunately.

The financial markets were, in general, pleased with the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index up 1.01% as of noon New York time and the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.92%. The technology heavy NASDAQ Composite climbed 1.3%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury picked up 1 basis point to 2.96%

Oil continued its march toward $70 a barrel with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate gaining 1.48% to $69.44 a barrel. International benchmark Brent picked up 1.36%.