Jobs Numbers – April

Not as good as I was hoping for, but not awful either.

From EPI:

The April 2012 employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 115,000 jobs were added in April.  This is a drop from earlier in the year, but much of the slowdown is likely due to seasonal factors, namely unseasonably warm weather in the winter (e.g., the unseasonably warm January and February boosted economic activity and meant some employers hired then, instead of waiting until the spring).  Given that, the average job growth of the last three months—176,000 jobs—is probably the best measure of the current underlying trend.  This trend is above the roughly 100,000 jobs per month we need to keep up with population growth and keep the unemployment rate stable. The labor market thus continues to very slowly improve, but current growth is a far cry from the 350,000 jobs per month we would need to get back to full employment in three years.

The best explanation of the real numbers is here.

Labor force participation dropped two-tenths of a percentage point in April to 63.6 percent, its low of the downturn, and far below its pre-recession rate of 66.0 percent in December 2007.  The labor force participation rate continues to slide largely because, despite the labor market slowly getting stronger, it is still a very difficult environment for job seekers, with unemployment over 8 percent, underemployment at 14.5 percent, and 41.3 percent of job seekers unemployed for more than six months.   Such an environment does not draw workers in.  It is unlikely that the workers who make up the decline in the labor force participation rate are going to join the labor force in large numbers until job prospects are strong enough that they won’t face months of fruitless job searching.

There are currently 2.4 million “marginally attached” workers (using our own seasonal adjustment calculation). These are workers who want a job, are available to work, but have given up actively seeking work. If these workers were in the labor force and counted as unemployed, the unemployment rate would be 9.5 percent right now (BLS calls this the U-5 measure of labor underutilization, and the April rate is a slight improvement from the March rate of 9.6 percent).