Key Takeaways from the April Jobs Report

According to the April jobs report released by the Labor Department last week, the economy produced 263,000 jobs in April, which was the 103rd straight month of growth. Unemployment fell to 3.6%, which was the lowest rate in 50 years. The strength of the report is remarkable this late in the recovery.

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While job gains smashed consensus predictions, they aligned with a substantial 13.6% increase in job postings we observed on ZipRecruiter in March. Spikes in job openings tend to be followed by spikes in hiring a month later.

The Fastest-Growing Industries

Month-over-month, the industries adding the most jobs were professional and business services (76,000 new jobs), health care and social assistance (52,600), leisure and hospitality (34,000), construction (33,000), and government (27,000).

The first three came as no surprise—they have consistently created massive numbers of jobs over the past year—535,000, 524,000, and 455,000 jobs respectively. The next two sectors have been more volatile. The construction industry—one of the few industries where the number of unemployed people is still greater than the number of job openings—is experiencing a welcome hiring boom, for a host of reasons discussed here.

And government payrolls, which only grew 0.56% over the past year, have started to swell as the government begins hiring for the Census. (If you’re interested in working for the Census, you can apply for more than 1,000 U.S. Census Bureau jobs right now–many of them with just one click–here on ZipRecruiter.)

Wage Growth at Last

After being disappointingly sluggish for much of the recovery, wage growth has now solidified. With growth in average weekly earnings measuring 3.2% in April, wage growth has now been above 3% for 9 straight months. Wage growth continues to be strongest for service-sector employees (3.42% vs 1.77% for production employees) and for non-managers (3.06% vs 2.94% for managers).  

Wages have been buoyed by tightening labor markets, business optimism, and the largest increase in labor productivity in nearly a decade. In the first four months of 2019, job postings were up 11.9% on ZipRecruiter over the same period a year ago, but the average number of job seeker responses per posting declined by 2.7%, placing further pressure on employers to raise wages, expand benefits, and offer new perks to compete for scarce workers.

Job posting patterns on ZipRecruiter suggest strong wage growth will continue. Salaries listed in job postings were 3.5% higher in the first four months of 2019 on average than in the same period a year ago for jobs with low skill requirements, 7.0% higher for jobs with medium skill requirements, and 15.5% higher for jobs with advanced skill requirements.

Adding to the good news for workers, the share of job postings offering benefits rose to 31%—the highest share we have seen in more than two years.


Written by

Julia Pollak is Chief Economist at ZipRecruiter. She leads ZipRecruiter's economic research team, which provides insights and analysis on current labor market trends and the future of work.

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