By Ryan Velez
Marketwatch reports that the number of people collecting out-of-work unemployment checks has fallen to a low not seen in 17 years in April, suggesting that we are currently in the midst of the strongest U.S. labor market in quite some time. The exact numbers break down as a 49,000 drop to 1.98 million, notably making the second time that it has fallen below two million in the current 8-year economic expansion. The other time was this March.
According to a government report, the last time that state unemployment offices sent out fewer checks to jobless American was in April 2000. Interestingly, initial jobless claims rose by 10,000 to a still-low 244,000 in the seven days stretching from April 9 to April 15. However, this doesn’t tell the entire story, as the number of new applicants for unemployment benefits has registered less than 300,000 for 111 straight weeks. This long streak hasn’t been seen since the 1970’s. Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities, notes that there is a “steady downtrend in place in the pace of layoffs.” In addition, the monthly average of jobless claims, generally considered to be a more stable indicator, was a bit lower at 243,000.
In the face of these numbers, one question that is likely to come up is what exactly is behind this increase in jobs. Some are likely to look at Donald Trump’s presidency, as job creation is a major part of his presidential platform. However, his administration is still in its relative infancy, so it is likely we haven’t seen the full effects of his policies on the job market yet. In addition, him taking credit for job creations that he may have not fully been behind may obscure exactly what is a job Trump created or what exactly is a job already set in motion.
In addition, one may have to take into account what type of jobs people are taking, that isn’t accounted for in the statistics. Some people who have been fired from their professional jobs may have to take part-time work, work in jobs that are outside their original field, or go work for themselves. This may technically keep them from being unemployed, but doesn’t necessarily paint a positive picture. Only time will tell how exactly this low period of unemployment is breaking down.