Payroll employment is expected to rise by 145,000 in April after slowing to less than 100,000 in March. Government employment is expected to shave about 10,000 from the top with a hiring freeze at the federal level taking a bite out of gains. That puts private sector new hires at 155,000, which is solid but not spectacular. The good news is that we don’t need as much in terms of employment gains as we once did to keep the unemployment rate relatively stable. There just are not as many people to absorb as there once were since more baby boomers are retiring and immigration is slowing. Unemployment is expected to edge up slightly to 4.6% after hitting a low of 4.5% in March. A small increase in the number of people participating in the labor force is the primary reason.
Professional hires, which tend to show strong gains in April, are expected to be remain robust. Recruiting on college campuses continues to pick up while entry-level wages for new college graduates are firming. We see recent reports of employers complaining about the quality and readiness of college grads as good news because it suggests they are dipping deeper into the pool of college grads to hire up.
Another sign of how much labor markets are tightening is scattered talk I have heard from larger employers