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The unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent, the lowest since 2000, and marked the first time it had dropped under 4.1 percent in a half year.

U.S. jobs growth slowed in April.

In April, 1.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 172,000 from a year earlier. The average work week was unchanged at 34.1 hours. That, together with a shortage of skilled workers, should put upward pressure on wages in the months ahead, economists say.

Counting Labor Department revisions for February and March, the economy has added an average of 208,000 jobs a month over the past three months.

Wages were slightly up, by 2.6 percent, to $26.84 hourly.

The number of unemployed people, at 6.3 million, also dipped over the month.

While total construction employment has made great strides over the past seven years, it has still recovered only about three-quarters of its peak-to-trough decline experienced between 2008 and 2010.

Instead, we have an aging Baby Boomer generation leaving the market, a lower birth rate, more freelancers and individuals working in the gig economy and simply a larger number of Americans who are just not actively seeking work. Over the last 12 months, that sector has expanded by 518,000 jobs. Even so, they haven't significantly bumped up pay in most industries. (The record to beat: nine months.) The streak defied the expectations of economists, who said the nation's prolonged hiring blitz - an average of 202,000 new positions each month in 2018 - was bound to drive the figure down.


Within services, the sub-sectors with the biggest bursts in employment in April were: "professional and business services", +54,000 jobs; "education and health services", +31,000; and "leisure and hospitality", +18,000. That number was revised to a gain of 135,000 jobs in today's report. Eight years ago, the jobless rate was 10 percent.

The drop in the unemployment rate may be partly explained by a contraction in the labour force (data showed that 236,000 Americans exited the labour force in April).

Barrera adds that it is also younger people who are new to the workforce that are seeing more opportunities as well.

The low unemployment rate means that the still-depressed levels of participation in the work force are hard to chalk up to a shortage of jobs.

Signs of labor market tightening are likely to spur the Federal Reserve to continue to raise the federal funds rate in June, in a bid to head off inflation.

Big picture: After nearly nine years of economic expansion, one of the biggest problems companies face is finding skilled workers to fill millions of job openings.

It gets worse when you add the recently released first quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data - which showed cooling expansion and anemic consumer economic activity.


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