Welcome news on employment gains in April

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy had a net gain of 290,000 jobs during the month of April, the largest monthly increase since March 2006. The number includes 66,000 temporary workers hired to help conduct the U.S. census. Job numbers for February and March were also revised upwards, Steve Benen notes: "While previous estimates showed 14,000 job losses in February, the revised total was a gain of 39,000. Likewise, March was revised from 162,000 to 230,000."

On the down side, the unemployment rate inched up from 9.7 percent to 9.9 percent because more people are looking for work again. Many economists believe it will take four or five years to bring the unemployment rate back down to the level seen before the last economic recession.

Still, it's encouraging to see job growth instead of job losses. Down With Tyranny has more analysis of the employment figures as well as the absurdly negative spin some Republicans are putting on the news.

[Update] I've added some more thoughts below the fold. - Charles

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today a better than expected jobs report. While the unemployment rose slightly to 9.9 percent, the US economy added 290,000 jobs in April. That's the single largest monthly increase since March 2006. While the uptick was boosted by the hiring of 66,000 temporary public sector workers for the 2010 Census, the private sector also added a robust 231,000 new jobs. A survey of analysts by Bloomberg News had predicted a net gain of 162,000 jobs. In short, the April jobs report beat all expectations though that shouldn't obscure the fact that the unemployment rate remains. The rate climbed to 9.9 percent as more people entered the job market looking for work. About 195,000 workers began looking for work last month, according to the Labor Department.

From the BLS release:


Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 290,000 in April, the unemployment rate edged up to 9.9 percent, and the labor force increased sharply, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in manufacturing, professional and business services, health care, and leisure and hospitality. Federal government employment also rose, reflecting continued hiring of temporary workers for Census 2010.

In April, the number of unemployed persons was 15.3 million, and the unemployment rate edged up to 9.9 percent. The rate had been 9.7 percent for the first 3 months of this year.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for whites (9.0 percent) edged up in April, while the rates for adult men (10.1 percent), adult women (8.2 percent), teenagers (25.4 percent), blacks (16.5 percent), and Hispanics (12.5 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.8 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) continued to trend up over the month, reaching 6.7 million. In April, 45.9 percent of unemployed persons had been jobless for 27 weeks or more.

Among the unemployed, the number of reentrants to the labor force rose by 195,000 over the month.

In April, the civilian labor force participation rate increased by 0.3 percentage point to 65.2 percent, as the size of the labor force rose by 805,000. Since December, the participation rate has increased by 0.6 percentage point. The employment-population ratio rose to 58.8 percent over the month and has increased by 0.6 percentage point since December.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was about unchanged at 9.2 million in April. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

About 2.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in April, compared with 2.1 million a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 1.2 million discouraged workers in April, up by 457,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.2 million persons marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.


Though more than 100,000 jobs a month are needed just to keep up with the growth of the working-age population, this report builds on a modest recovery trend and in that there's solace for at the very least the Administration's policies have stemmed the bleeding of jobs. It bears recalling that when President Obama took office the economy was shedding 750,000 jobs monthly. Now over the past four months, the economy has added 573,000 jobs.

Tags: jobs, Economy, Unemployement (all tags)



I am 1

Thanks to the ARRA, I was one of the people who returned to work full time on April 26. I can not express in words how thankful and blessed and proud I feel to be one of that number.

I was unemployed for 60 weeks (14 months). The damage it did to me financially and career wise may not be recovered for a long, long time.

Your analysis is good, and you duly note that the economy needs to create 100,000+ jobs a month just to keep pace with a growing work force. Moreover, the economy needs to add 200,000 - 300,000 jobs a month just to bring down unemployment, as many previously discouraged workers return to the workforce.

Lowering unemployment will be key to our successes in November, and any chance we have to attempt a second stimulus and tax increase. The more I think about it, the more I think a tax increase on the wealthiest and a second stimulus will be necessary. I just don't know if Obama will go for it...

by NoFortunateSon 2010-05-07 02:42PM | 0 recs
I only wish

the stimulus bill had been larger and better-targeted. But there's no question that it helped.

Interestingly, Chris Bowers argues that; employment gains throughout 1994 didn't prevent that debacle:

The cost of living, as well as the net worth of investments and homes, will also impact more people than unemployment, or even the broader U6 measure that includes underemployment. Even if U6 shows one in six people underemployed, underemployed, or disgruntled and no longer looking for work, all of these other economic measures will impact a higher percentage of the population, and an even higher percentage of the midterm electorate (which skews older and wealthier). Further, Obama and Democrats actually poll better among the unemployed than among the employed, so those are not even the people who need the most convincing to vote for Democrats.

This isn't to say that unemployment is entirely irrelevant in determining election outcomes--I believe it is. However, it is not the only metric, or even the most important metric, affecting those outcomes. If Democrats are going to recover before the November elections, they need not only for jobs to continue to be added to the economy, but also for the majority of those people who are already employed to experience improved personal finances. The direction of the objective economic conditions faced by the entire electorate, not just the unemployed, will be the driving factor in November.

by desmoinesdem 2010-05-07 04:44PM | 0 recs


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