The American economy gained 164,000 jobs last month. We need 90,000 new jobs just to keep up with population growth, which means that net job growth clocked in at a so-so 74,000 jobs. The headline unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent, but this was entirely due to people dropping out of the labor force. The number of employed workers stayed exactly the same and the employment-population ratio dropped slightly. Wages of production and nonsupervisory workers were up 2.8 percent. That’s a little higher than the rate of inflation, so blue-collar workers saw a bit of a pay increase last month.
This was a pretty weak jobs report. Blue collar wages rose decently, but the drop in the unemployment rate is illusory, generated not by more people working but by more people dropping out of the labor force. The number of new jobs was OK, but nothing to write home about. The whole thing was very meh.