When the New York Times has to reluctantly admit the existence of an economic boom, while doing everything in their power to minimize and distract from the basic facts, you know that a strong economy has really arrived.
First we had unemployment reported at a 6 year nationwide low of 4.7% - well under 4% in many areas of the country. A rate so low that only two years in the last 40 have had lower unemployment. In addition, the actual rate of employment is at a record high of over 66%, a rate exceeded by only 3 years in the last 40. That's good news, but the latest reports on the economy show even more encouraging data.
Job growth goes hand in hand with low unemployment, and in the first quarter of this year we've seen an unprecedented total of 590,000 new jobs added to the workforce. This continues the trend of massive job growth which has produced an impressive increase of 2.7 million new jobs since the first quarter of last year.
Another bit of good news in the job sector is that the trend for hourly wages to increase which began last year has continued, with the average non-farm hourly wage up $.55 an hour from March of last year, meaning more than $1000 a year in additional earnings for the average worker. Gains were strongest for highly skilled workers, with computer manufacturing jobs increasing by $.76 an hour on average, utility workers gaining $.81 an hour, those providing professional and business services going up $.93 an hour and the big winners were those in information services who gained $1.17 an hour. Overall this is the second largest rate of wage increase in any year since records started being kept in 1964. The average rate of wage increases in the last 40 years has been $.33 per year.
In the latest report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis the raw quarterly growth rate in the Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter of this year is reported at an unprecedented 8.2%. That's an incredible rate of economic growth, a full 3 points higher than the very impressive 5.2% reported in the fourth quarter of last year. Adjusted for the current value of the dollar the GDP growth was even better relative to last year, at 4.8% compared to 1.7% in the fourth quarter of 2005.