- The U.S. gained 263,000 nonfarm jobs in April, a 67,000 increase in growth above March's numbers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics' (BLS) monthly jobs report.
- The unemployment rate dropped from 3.8% in March to 3.6% last month, the lowest rate on record since 1969, according to The New York Times. April unemployment rates declined across most worker groups; however, the jobless rates for blacks (6.7%) and teenagers (13%) showed little or no change.
- The industries with the largest job growth were professional and business services (+76,000), construction (+33,000) and healthcare (+27,000). April's average hourly wage increased for private, nonfarm jobs (by 6 cents to $27.77) and private-sector production and nonsupervisory jobs (by 7 cents to $23.31).
Finding high-quality talent is the top challenge for HR leaders in 2019, a survey from XpertHR revealed earlier this year — and a 3.6% unemployment rate may ensure that it remains a key consideration for companies of all sizes.
Job growth in retail trade — where a bulk of hourly lower-wage earners are employed — changed little, according to BLS. Still, retailers continue to raise their minimum wage to attract and retain workers in the competition for talent, including big names like Target and Amazon. The tightening of the talent market comes as many employers put employees at the center of their newest business initiatives; when Target announced its latest wage hike, the company noted that its employees are "at the heart of everything we do to fulfill our purpose of bringing guests joy." Other retailers have added new communication platforms or scheduling tools to improve the hourly employee experience, key in a tough talent market.
Some companies have pushed a skills focus for their talent bases, both through upskilling initiatives and through making job descriptions more clearly about the skills required on the job. "Most job descriptions are not worth the paper they're written on," Bhushan Sethi, partner and joint leader of the Financial Services People and Organization practice at PwC, previously told HR Dive in an interview.