U.S. Jobless Rate Drops To 3.8 Percent

Jun 1, 2018
Originally published on June 1, 2018 8:48 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The monthly jobs report is out, it shows that the pace of hiring picked up as April moved into May. Employers added 223,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate ticked down again to 3.8 percent, which is the lowest unemployment rate in 18 years. All this, though, may be overshadowed by something President Trump did a little more than an hour before the report was released. He sent out a tweet saying he was looking forward to the report coming out. Joining us now to talk about all this is NPR's Chris Arnold. Hey, Chris.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel.

MARTIN: So the president's tweet caused a big stir. How come? What's the concern with him sending this tweet out?

ARNOLD: Well, the concern is, I mean, these are one of these - this is one of these big economic numbers that comes out. And they actually lock reporters up in a room and no one's allowed to leave. And there's just super security because if traders found out in advance, they could buy and sell and make lots and lots of money. And so it's just treated very - with a lot of security and a lot of secrecy. And so the worry is that the - or the concern is that the president let the cat out of the bag.

MARTIN: So what effect did it have? I mean, did the president's tweet in fact move markets?

ARNOLD: Well, we're going to see a lot of scrutiny about that. This is - it's only been a few hours since all of this was happening. It does appear that there was movement in the bond market right after the tweet, the stock market maybe less so. But again, we will be looking at that question, a lot of people will be, very closely.

MARTIN: So again, the president's tweet said the following, quote, "looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning." So do we now know for certain that when he sent that tweet he had actually seen them, or was he just generally looking forward to seeing them?

ARNOLD: We know that - yeah, he's saying he's looking forward to seeing them. We know that he has already seen them at that point when he's tweeting that. One of the president's top economic advisers, Larry Kudlow, said point blank on TV this morning that he gave the president the numbers the day before. The White House, though, is defending the tweet as appropriate. The White House says, look, basically, the president didn't give the numbers. He didn't say it was 223,000 jobs. So, you know, this is fine. And it's all in keeping with the rules about these things. Still, there's a lot of criticism, though, that the president crossed a line here, that he's signaling to the markets that this was going to be a good report.

MARTIN: Let's talk about the substance of this report because it was good, right?

ARNOLD: It was very good. In fact, it's hard to find anything negative at all about this report. The amount of jobs is better than expected. We saw decent wage growth. The unemployment rate fell again to 3.8 percent this time. And it's only been a few times going all the way back to 1948 and the post-war economic boom that we've ever had an unemployment rate at 3.8 percent. There was also strong growth for African-American workers. There was a big decline in people who were kind of discouraged and had stopped working. There's not as many of them. There's not as many people stuck in part-time jobs when they'd like to be in full-time jobs. Anywhere you look in this report, it was pretty glowing.

MARTIN: NPR's Chris Arnold for us this morning. Thanks so much, Chris.

ARNOLD: No problem. Thanks, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.