Powell Dashboard Shows Wider Disparities as Job Growth Slows
(Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says he wants to see a recovery that reaches all corners of the labor market before the U.S. central bank begins raising interest rates. The numbers in Friday’s jobs report suggest the economy didn’t make much progress toward that goal in April.
The U.S. central bank announced last year an overhaul of its monetary policy strategy, a move which included changing the way it defines its congressionally-mandated goal of maximum employment to be “broad-based and inclusive.”
Here’s a look at how a few of the indicators Powell has said he’s watching to judge progress toward the new objective fared last month, according to Labor Department figures published Friday.
The unemployment rate for Black Americans rose in April to 9.7%.
Unemployment for Latino Americans was unchanged at 7.9%, while for White Americans the unemployment rate edged down to 5.3%, and Asian-American unemployment fell to 5.7%.
Powell has cited a wage-growth indicator compiled by the Atlanta Fed which measures earnings trends for the bottom 25% of American workers by wage level. Median wage growth for that group ticked up to 4.3% on average in the 12 months through March (the latest month for which data are available). That compares with 3.5% for the entire workforce.
Friday’s report showed tentative signs of firming wages in low-paid jobs, too. Average hourly earnings in the leisure and hospitality sector jumped 1.7% as 331,000 workers returned to payrolls there, bringing pay back to roughly in line with the pre-pandemic trend.
Americans without college educations continue to struggle with employment prospects, according to Friday’s report. Labor force participation for high school graduates 25 years and older without college educations rose to 55.3% in April, but that leaves it still three percentage points below where it was in February 2020.
Participation among those 25 years and older without high school diplomas, meanwhile, slid to 44.2%.
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