U.S. Jobs Report: What to Watch For

U.S. Jobs Report: What to Watch For

“If we can see some gain in those, we’ll have some underlying strength in the marketplace,” he added.

The outlook for new graduates

Students graduating from college this season are facing their best job and wage prospects since the recession, according to a new report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. Still, there are weak pockets. Many graduates are in jobs below their skill levels. For example, the underemployment rate for young college graduates — those in jobs beneath their skills or working part time — was recently 11.9 percent, compared with 9.6 percent in 2007 and 7.1 percent in 2000.

This is the season for recruiters to be scouring colleges. Improvement in the employment figures for young people in April would be a sign that the job market for those with freshly printed diplomas is still improving. So would an increase in employment among young African-American and Latino job seekers, who traditionally experience much higher jobless rates.

The difference in hiring and saying you’re going to hire

The administration’s solidly pro-business agenda and promises to cut taxes, eliminate regulations and repair infrastructure have buoyed many executives, but dysfunction and divisions among Republicans have left some employers in a wait-and-see mode.

“Businesses want to hire and planned on hiring,” said Matthew Dolly, director of research at Transwestern, a national commercial real estate firm. “But until policies are ironed out, hiring will remain stagnant for a bit while that happens.”

Owners of small and medium-size businesses expressed optimism about the economy, despite a handful of weak economic indicators, said Cathy Barrera, an economics professor at Cornell University and the chief economic adviser for ZipRecruiter, an online job platform. But many employers have yet to act on their stated intentions to add workers. “The thing that stands out most,” Ms. Barrera said, is the “gap between that optimism and the follow-through on that optimism.”

A strong report would signal that the gap is starting to close.

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