Washington, D.C. — Center for American Progress Economist Kate Bahn released the following statement on today’s employment situation figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The economy added 98,000 jobs—lower than the predicted consensus of 180,000 jobs—and the unemployment rate fell from 4.7 percent to 4.5 percent.
The labor market is maintaining its stability from the Obama administration years of recovery from the Great Recession, and steady progress in the tightening of the labor market has finally begun to lead to wage growth of 2.7 percent over the past year. Certain demographics continue to experience worse labor market outcomes, particularly African American workers, but maintaining these trends could provide the opportunity to lift up those who have historically been left behind when it comes to economic growth.
The labor market stability we’ve been experiencing is not a sure thing, and proposed policy changes from the current administration—such as massive cuts for the wealthy and corporations that undercut the ability of government to function effectively—threaten to dial back the progress we’ve made. The budget outline released by President Donald Trump last month leaves little hope that this administration will make the necessary investments to undergird our economy and support the middle class—including education, research, and infrastructure.
A lack of clear policy direction from the Republican-controlled Congress, along with an erratic White House, can further contribute to a climate of economic uncertainty in which workers and employers face unclear expectations. Such uncertainty affects companies, which could be reluctant to increase wages and hire more workers without a clear sense of what policies they may face and whether the country can maintain its economic growth, while workers could be hesitant to move to new opportunities. While we wait to see what the full Trump budget includes and whether the majority is able to lead Congress to any consensus on any major policy, our economy maintains a fragile balance with an undefined future.
Related resource: The State of the U.S. Labor Market: Pre-April 2017 Jobs Release by Kate Bahn, Annie McGrew, and Gregg Gelzinis.
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