US employers pulled back on hiring in April after a streak of solid monthly gains, adding 160,000 jobs, the fewest in seven months, the AP reports. The unemployment rate remained at a low of 5%, roughly the same level it has been since the fall. The job gain was down from the average increase of 200,000 over the past three months, which is the softest three-month pace since October. The slowdown may raise concerns that weak US economic growth has discouraged some employers from hiring. The economy's growth has slumped to a sluggish 1% annual rate since October. Meanwhile, the labor participation rate went down to 62.8%, per Money.
But there was good news on the wage gains front: Average hourly pay rose 2.5% from a year earlier—a "hot number," the Wall Street Journal notes, and above the sluggish 2% pace that has been typical for the past six years. Money reports that consumer confidence in the jobs that are out there is rising, with more people perceiving that jobs are "plentiful" rather than "hard to get" for the first time since the Great Recession ended. The Journal notes that April's jobs report will only serve to keep the Fed in "standby mode" as it ponders whether to boost the short-term interest rate. Officials had suggested that such a rate increase in June may have been in the cards if the economy picked up steam—but now it will likely take better news on consumption, hiring, and inflation for the rate increase to happen.