US unemployment down to 3.9% as 164,000 jobs added

The overall unemployment rate is now the lowest since December 2000. (AP)
Updated 04 May 2018

US unemployment down to 3.9% as 164,000 jobs added

WASHINGTON: US employers stepped up hiring modestly in April, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent, evidence of the economy’s resilience amid the recent stock market chaos and anxieties about a possible trade war.
Job growth amounted to a decent 164,000 last month, up from an upwardly revised 135,000 in March. The unemployment rate fell after having held at 4.1 percent for the prior six months largely because fewer people were searching for jobs.
The overall unemployment rate is now the lowest since December 2000. The rate for African-Americans — 6.6 percent — is the lowest on record since 1972.
Many employers say it’s difficult to find qualified workers. But they have yet to significantly bump up pay in most industries. Average hourly earnings rose 2.6 percent from a year ago.
The pace of hiring has yet to be disrupted by dramatic global market swings, a recent pickup in inflation and the risk that the tariffs being pushed by President Donald Trump could provoke a trade war.
Much of the economy’s strength, for the moment, comes from the healthy job market. The increase in people earning paychecks has bolstered demand for housing, even though fewer properties are being listed for sale. Consumer confidence has improved over the past year. And more people are shopping, with retail sales having picked up in March after three monthly declines.
Workers in the private sector during the first three months of 2018 enjoyed their sharpest average income growth in 11 years, the Labor Department said last week in a separate report on compensation. That pay growth suggests that some of the momentum from the slow but steady recovery from the 2008 financial crisis is spreading to more people after it had disproportionately benefited the nation’s wealthiest areas and highest earners.
The monthly jobs reports have shown pay raises inching up. At the same time, employers have become less and less likely to shed workers. The four-week moving average for people applying for first-time unemployment benefits has reached its lowest level since 1973.
The trend reflects a decline in mass layoffs. Many companies expect the economy to keep expanding, especially after a dose of stimulus from tax cuts signed into law by Trump that have also increased the federal budget deficit.


Saudi labor force figures on the rise before pandemic

Updated 08 July 2020

Saudi labor force figures on the rise before pandemic

  • Trend driven by increase in female employment, but second quarter data will reveal impact of virus on jobs

RIYADH: Saudi unemployment dipped below 12 percent in the first quarter for the first time in four years — but the government data does not reflect the impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

The Labor Force Survey published by the General Authority of Statistics (GASTAT), which was conducted in January 2020, before the pandemic, showed that the total unemployment rate amounted to 5.7 percent in the first quarter, unchanged compared to the first quarter of the previous year.

Regional economies have been hit by the double whammy of the coronavirus and weak oil prices which has forced major employers to lay off staff throughout the Gulf and led to the departure of thousands of expatriate workers.

Last week the International Labor Organization warned the outlook for the global jobs market in the second half of 2020 was “highly uncertain” and that employment was unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels this year. 

“The estimates have revised upwards considerably the damage done to our labor markets by the pandemic,” said Guy Ryder, ILO director-general.

The Saudi unemployment rate decreased to 11.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020, from 12.5 percent the same period in 2019, and compared to 12 percent in the last quarter of 2019. 

The figures also reflect an increase in the total labor force participation rate to 58.2 percent in the first three months of 2020, a jump of 1.8 percentage points compared to the same period in 2019.

GASTAT said that the stability in the unemployment rate and the increase of labor force participation rate were due to the increase in the number of employees in the survey.

That trend was driven by a decrease in the Saudi female unemployment rate that stood at 28.2 percent in the first quarter of 2020, 2.7 percentage points lower than the last quarter in 2019. 

Meanwhile the Saudi male unemployment rate rose to 5.6 percent, 0.6 percentage points higher than the rate of last quarter in 2019.

The statistics show that there are almost 9.98 million people in employment across the public and private sectors.

About 3.2 million of them are Saudis. The figures exclude workers in the security and military sectors. 

The data also reveal that there are 3.66 million domestic workers in the country, all of them non-Saudis.

The labor market statistics are compiled from two main sources. The first is the labor force survey, which is a household survey that is carried out by GASTAT and provides the most important indicators of the labor market, such as the unemployment and labor force participation rates.

The second source is administrative data which is recorded and updated by government agencies related to the labor market.