Is the Fed’s rate-hike cycle over?
Coming into today’s payrolls number, the sellside community was hoping that last month’s unexpectedly poor payrolls number would prove to be a one off. It was not, and moments ago the BLS surprised with yet another poor jobs number, when it reported that in April, the US generated only 164K jobs, missing expectations of a 190K print, if modestly better than last month’s upward revised 135K number (from 102K).
Total 164,000 April payrolls, compared with an average monthly gain of 191,000 over the prior 12 months, with most job gains occurring in professional and business services, manufacturing, health care, and mining.
February payrolls were revised down from +326,000 to +324,000, while March was revised up from +103,000 to
+135,000, netting a +30,000 job gains for the past two months. After revisions, job gains have averaged 208,000 over the last 3 months.
There was a silver lining: some of the miss could potentially be explained by harsher April weather, as workers who said they are unable to work due to bad weather was at 133K, nearly double the April historical average of 76k employees.
However, it wasn’t just the headline payrolls number that was a disappointment: the much more closely watched average hourly earnings print also missed, rising just 0.1% M/M, below the 0.2% expected, and 2.6% Y/Y, also missing the 2.7% expected.
The only good in today’s report is that the unemployment rate dropped to a new record low of 3.9%, which however was the result of a 240K drop in the labor force as the number of employed Americans (per the Household Survey) remained virtually unchanged at 155.181K