Certainly, the administration’s solidly pro-business agenda has buoyed many executives. At the same time, they have steadily complained about a growing shortage of workers.
“It’s not an employer’s market,” said Patrick Bass, chief executive of Thyssenkrupp North America, which makes elevators, steel and other industrial products.
Based in Germany, Thyssenkrupp employs more than 15,000 people in the United States, but “the labor market is very competitive at all levels,” Mr. Bass said. “We have more positions open than we’ve been able to fill.”
Yet if shortages were as acute as advertised, then wages would be bid up at a faster rate. Average hourly earnings, though, rose by 0.3 percent in April, bringing the year-over-year growth to 2.5 percent. Last year at this time, increases were the same but inflation was lower, further shrinking the impact of any wage increases.
Employers must decide whether to buy skills or to build them, said Michael Stull, a senior vice president at the staffing company Manpower North America. The small pressure on wages, he said, is evidence that they have been trying to buy them, but more businesses are expressing an interest in partnerships with educational institutions or in developing skills so that new hires “can earn while they learn.”
Workers with fewer skills or less experience can often be hired at a cut rate. Some may have come from the ranks of part-time workers who want full-time jobs and of those who had previously been too discouraged to look. There was a sharp drop last month in the broader measure of unemployment, which includes individuals in both categories, to 8.6 percent from 8.9 percent. That is close to the prerecession rate.
Less encouraging was a dip in the proportion of adults who have a job or want one. That measure, known as the labor participation rate, edged down to…