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One Hundred Three Months and Counting

J: On May 3, the BLS gave us stunningly good news on the US labor market in April As the chart shows, nonfarm payroll employment increased by 263,000 jobs that month to a record of 151,095,000 such jobs.

The low point since the December 2007 to June 2009 recession was not reached until February 2010 at 129,715,000 nonfarm payroll jobs. That was a decline of 8,707,000 jobs or 6.3 percent from the peak of 138,422,000 jobs in January 2008.

Every single month from October 2010 through April 2019 has shown an increase in nonfarm payroll jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. That's an amazing 103 consecutive months of growth.

It took a long time to recover all those jobs lost in the recession. It was May 2014 before we hit a new record for total nonfarm payroll employment. That means April 2019 was the 63rd consecutive record for this closely-watched, very important economic indicator.

There was also great news on the unemployment rate in April. It was 3.6 percent, down from 3.9 percent in April of 2018. As this chart shows, this was the lowest unemployment rate for the US since the 3.5 percent of November and December 1969.

For women, the unemployment rate was 3.4 percent in April. As this next chart demonstrates, you have to go all the way back to August 1953 to find a lower number. It was 3.0 percent then, but that was because the Korean War had caused a "Rosie the Riveter Redux" as the US scrambled to ramp up defense production to fight that war that ran from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953.

As you can see , this chart shows how these low unemployment rates for women ended quickly. By December 1953 their unemployment rate was 5.1 percent and it peaked at 7.6 percent in April 1958, two recessions after the 1953 lows.. (L: I must point out that unemployment rates are based on the number of people "looking for work." In this time period, most women were not "in the workforce," so this number is not so meaningful as you might think.)

We will get a new "Employment Situation" report from BLS later this week. That will definitely show May as the 104th consecutive month of growth in total nonfarm payroll employment. We will have to wait and see what other surprises will be in that report.

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