Store employee Josh Kelly checks the condition of used records at Vintage Vinyl Records on April 14, 2015. SOURCE: AP/Mel Evans
Washington, D.C. — Center for American Progress Economist Michael Madowitz released the following statement today after the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its April 2015 employment figures. Follow Madowitz on Twitter today at @mikemadowitz to get more breaking jobs day analysis.
The economy added 223,000 jobs last month, and with the overall unemployment rate now standing at a solid 5.4 percent—reflecting 62 consecutive months of private-sector expansion—there is substantial reason to see today’s job growth as another positive step in the economic recovery. With continued strong numbers and no signs of the economy overheating, there is no need for the Federal Reserve to slow the economy down.
However, it is wage growth—or lack thereof—that should be the real focus in this month’s employment report, with hourly earnings growing only 2.2 percent over the past year. In order to tighten the labor market and generate sustainable middle-class wage growth, the economy will need to maintain the brisk pace of job growth that started this year for many months to come.
As the economy continues to bounce back, middle-class families must be able to share in the recovery. Research from CAP found that in recent years, the cost of security for a median middle-class family has risen sharply, while incomes have stagnated. Encouragingly, the Obama administration announced this week that it is moving forward with its plan to ensure that Americans who work long hours are paid fairly. Overtime protections have fallen by more than half since 1975, robbing millions of Americans of wages that they have earned and rightly deserve and providing little incentive for companies to increase hiring even when workers are stretched thin. Updating these obsolete overtime rules will help restore fairness to the labor market, bolster the wage growth that is sorely missing from today’s report, and help build an economy that works for everyone.
Related resource: The State of the U.S. Labor Market: Pre-May 2015 Jobs Release by Jackie Odum, Danielle Corley, and Michael Madowitz