US jobs report: Unemployment falls to 3.9%

Job growth accelerated in April, cutting the nation's jobless rate as U.S. employers added 164,000 jobs compared to the revised 135,000 in March.

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April's reading fell short of analysts’ expectations for 192,000 jobs to be created in the month. March's 135,000 was an upward revision compared to the intial reading for 103,000 jobs.

"This jobs report is truly a mixed bag. It is inevitable that attention will gravitate toward the decline in the unemployment rate to 3.9%, breaking out of the pattern of having held at 4.1% for six straight months. We can continue to head lower from here if we see robust hiring in the months ahead," said Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com's senior economic analyst.

For the April report, the unemployment rate came in at 3.9%, down from the prior month’s 4.1%, lower than expectations. Prior to April, the unemployment rate was at 4.1% for six consecutive months.

April’s 3.9% is a signal of an increasingly competitive job market, and the lowest reading since 2000.

Worker pay was unchanged, up 2.6% over the past 12 months.

The jobs market is one of the factors that the Fed monitors to determine when interest rate hikes are necessary.

“While the job numbers came in below expectations, the reality is that the economy is still on relatively solid ground, and the labor market is quite strong. This will likely not change the outcome of the Fed meeting in June, as layoffs are few, the Fed is now closer to its inflation target of 2% than it has been in quite some time, and raising interest rates is still necessary,” said Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group.

Rick expects two more rate hikes this year, for three total rate hikes.

It is possible that there will be some immediate reaction from Fed members, on Friday, with several Federal Reserve officials scheduled to speak.

New York Fed President William Dudley will speak at 12:45 p.m. ET in New York, San Francisco Fed President John Williams will appear at a monetary policy conference at the Stanford University’s Hoover Institution at 3 p.m. ET, while Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Randal Quarles will speak at the same conference at 5:30 p.m. ET.

In addition, at that conference Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic and Kansas City Fed President Esther George will participate in a panel discussion.