Actalent Labor Market and Economy Report: A Look at Trends in April 2024

By Eliza Hetrick | May 17, 2024

Executive Summary

Job Growth

The U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in April, falling short of the monthly average (242,000) over the prior 12 months.

Healthcare, which has experienced notable growth each month since June 2022, lead the way among all sectors for the third straight month, adding 56,000 jobs. Social assistance was second with 31,000, followed by transportation and warehousing at 22,000.

Construction, after adding 40,000 jobs in March, cooled off to 9,000 in April, its smallest monthly gain since August 2022. Government job growth, averaging 56,000 jobs gained per month in 2024, also slowed month-to-month, going from 51,000 down to 8,000.

Among industries Actalent supports, manufacturing, scientific research and development, aerospace and defense and utilities saw flat to minimal job growth.

Unemployment and Labor Force Participation

The unemployment rate rose from 3.8% in March to 3.9% in April. The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.7%.

Unemployment rates, specific to the industries Actalent supports, were as follows for March: hospitals (1.4%), utilities (2.0%), professional and technical services (3.2%), manufacturing (2.9%), and construction (5.9%).

Among skilled labor categories Actalent sources talent for, unemployment in software-IT-mathematics was 3.1%; architecture and engineering was 1.9%; and sciences (life, physical and social) was 1.4%.


The year-over-year inflation rate was 3.4% in April, down slightly from March’s 3.5%. Shelter and gasoline price indexes continue to be the main drivers of inflation, accounting for 70% of the increase across all items. Similar to March, car insurance, medical care, apparel and personal care price indexes rose again. Meanwhile, prices for new and used vehicles and household furnishings decreased.

Wage Growth

Average hourly earnings increased 3.9% between April 2023 and April 2024. That is both the lowest year-over-year increase and the first reading below 4.0% since June 2021. The year-over-year hourly earnings rate has now decreased three months in a row. “Real" average hourly earnings (wages adjusted for inflation) increased 0.5% from April 2023 to April 2024, a slight decline compared to March’s 0.6% rate of increase. Currently, average hourly earnings are just barely keeping up with inflation.

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