Unemployment Rate Rises To 9.0%, But Economy Adds 244,000 Jobs

For the most part, April's jobs report was good news.

Many will concentrate on the fact that the unemployment rate increased 0.2% in April, but for the third straight month the economy showed strong jobs growth and that may be what matters the most:

The United States economy added far more jobs than expected in April, as the recovery slowly picks up steam.

The Department of Labor said Friday that 244,000 jobs were added in April after a gain of 221,000 jobs in March, as the unemployment rate rose to 9 percent in April from 8.8 percent in March.

As has been the case for several months, all of the increase came from private employers, which added another 268,000 jobs last month on top of the revised 231,000 in March, the monthly report said. Results of the previous two months were revised to show an additional 46,000 jobs were added.

Governments, struggling to balance budgets as they deal with shrinking revenues and growing deficits, cut 24,000 jobs last month. Most of the drop came on the local level, where 14,000 jobs were lost in April after a decline of 15,000 in March.

April’s numbers exceeded the forecasts of analysts, who had expected a gain of 185,000 jobs over all, with the change in private payrolls of 200,000. The uptick in the unemployment rate that came even as employers were adding jobs was an indication that more people were entering the work force as hopes for hiring increased.

(…)

About 13.7 million people were out of work in April, among them 5.8 million people who have been jobless for six months or longer. In March, the number of people who were unemployed was 13.5 million, with 6.1 million of them considered the long-term unemployed. In April, about 64.2 percent of adults were either in the work force or looking for a job, the fourth consecutive month it has been at that level, which is the lowest labor participation rate in a quarter-century.

The uptick in the unemployment rate, of course, somewhat dampens the good news of the jobs number:

The total amount of unemployed was unchanged from March at 13.7 million people.

The labor participation rate also was stuck at 64.2 percent, refuting the notion that the rise in the unemployment rate reflected more discouraged workers looking for jobs.

Also, the so-called real unemployment rate—which the government calls the U-6—which encompasses discouraged workers as well, actually rose in the month two-tenths of a point to 15.9 percent.

The numbers suggested that a good portion of the boost came from McDonald’s, which moved to hire 50,000 workers last month.

Still, gains in April marked seven straight months of net job creation, but remained too little to make much of dent on the pool of 13.7 million Americans out of work.

It’s also worth nothing that today’s report included revisions to the February and March figures which showed an additional 46,000 jobs added in that two month period.

So, there’s mixed news and that gives both sides of the political world to point to the figures as good news for them. Republicans will point to the uptick in unemployment and U-6 to argue that the Administration still isn’t creating sufficient conditions for job creation. Democrats will point to the fact that, for the third month in a row, nearly a quarter million jobs were added back into to the economy and that the recovery continues. That last part is true, but as we saw last week, that recovery appears to be very weak at the moment. Gas and oil prices have clearly had an impact on spending at all levels but, as always happens in these situations, that fact in itself is causing commodity prices to fall across the board:

Commodities prices fell sharply on Thursday, led by the steepest drop in oil prices since the fall of 2008.

Investors dumped commodities like silver and coffee and sugar that had seen a vast — and some said worrying — build up in prices within the last year on expectations of strong global demand.

The sharp sell-offs in part were prompted by fears about a slowdown in economic growth in the United States and around the world.

After four months of surging higher, oil prices plummeted by 9 percent as traders worried that American drivers were beginning to balk at paying nearly $4 a gallon of gasoline. Oil fell below $100 a barrel for the first time in two months.

“Pop goes the bubble,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research , a consulting firm.

Gasoline prices have not yet declined, though experts say they have probably peaked and will begin falling in the next few days — probably in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

If this continues, then those fears of $5 or $6 gas by the summer would pretty much go away and, just maybe, the economy will have the breathing room it needs to turn this into a real recovery.

Stay tuned.

 

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    What’s the old saying?

    Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    All but 7,000 of those jobs are accounted for by McDonalds and the birth-death adjustment. Or, said another way, the fudge factor is so large that the report has become meaningless.

  3. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    All but 7,000 of those jobs are accounted for by McDonalds and the birth-death adjustment. Or, said another way, the fudge factor is so large that the report has become meaningless.

    Agreed. And so now the US is a haven for burger-flippers. It’s no wonder that the GDP is only 1.8%. Given these employment numbers, I doubt that number is accurate too.

    And next month, the hordes of new college graduates will descend on the market only to find that McDonalds has no open positions left. Anybody have any predictions of what the unemployment rate will be then?

  4. john personna says:

    Well, they need those degrees to make it past the first round at McD, don’t they?

    (Yes, this is tragic.)

  5. Hey Norm says:

    This is exactly what conservatives say they want…the private sector added jobs and the public sector shrunk. In CT we are looking at laying off 4000 state workers. Smaller government baby!!! Will so-called conservatives applaud this? No. Why? Cause what they say and what they do never jives.

  6. Hey Norm says:

    Also the uptick to 9% probably reflects people coming back into the job market…another reversal of trend…which is actually good news… unless you are a partisan hack.

  7. Rob in CT says:

    9.0 unemployment sucks.

    Hey Norm – my neighbors are both worried about their jobs due to budget cuts. Hopefully they’re wrong.

    Meanwhile, in the glorious private sector, my company is making money hand over fist, executive comp is going up significantly, and… [drumroll] there have been a bunch of layoffs recently.

    Awesomesauce.

  8. Peter says:

    One drawback of the monthly jobs report is that it invariably gets adjusted in the following two months. These often are significant adjustments. Which isn’t to say that the report is not an important economic indicator, but it’s not quite as timely as its monthly frequency would tend to indicate.

  9. Hey Norm says:

    Rob….
    Obviously things aren’t rosy….but all the trends seem to be headed in the right direction. It appears the recovery has legs. Oil prices dropped…if gas goes down then, as pointed out in the original post, well have room to move.
    Best of luck to your neighbors. I don’t follow CT politics too closely but the Malloy budget seems to be a reasonable balance between spending cuts and revenue increases.

  10. Axel Edgren says:

    With all the suit-wearing degenerates saying spending has to be cut , there is still a threat of another small recession. It’s like this – anyone who is worried about the deficit has one job: explain to the American population how Medicare, Medicaid and Soc. Sec. costs can be lowered without destabilizing society.

    All this talk about spending cuts now today immediately? Only idiots and deceived people care about that. Think long term or stop pretending you care about the US.

  11. Herb says:

    We minimize the McDonald’s thing at our risk. One of the reason McDonald’s is going through a big hiring binge right now is that they are being pressured to hire Americans, specifically the young Americans McDonalds wasn’t hiring thanks to cheap immigrant labor.

    I doubt this will be a big boon to the economy, of course, but it’s nice to see that McDonalds is trying to be the place where young people start out again as opposed to the place where poor immigrants end up.

  12. Another county heard from says:

    @Norm with “Also the uptick to 9% probably reflects people coming back into the job market…another reversal of trend…” Did you miss this part of Doug’s post:

    “In April, about 64.2 percent of adults were either in the work force or looking for a job, the fourth consecutive month it has been at that level, which is the lowest labor participation rate in a quarter-century.”

    No increase in the percentage of people coming into the job market. Try again. In Korea, the government reports such news by saying, “sadly, the prosperity will need more time to trickle into the lower levels of economic activity.” It’s been trickling here now for about 3 years and hasn’t reached bottom yet, nor does it show any signs of being able to do so–and Korea’s economy is SIGNIFICANTLY more robust than the US;.

  13. Hey Norm says:

    Jesus god…still we are dreaming about prosperity trickling down. Magiconomics don’t work. Look around…this is what recovery after a major economic crisis looks like. We can argue about the details but the job market is improving even if it is at a modest pace. We’ve added 1.7 private sector jobs in the last year. Unfortunately they have been offset by 404k job losses in federal, state, and local governments. You want smalller government -you got it.

  14. An Interested Party says:

    If this continues, then those fears of $5 or $6 gas by the summer would pretty much go away and, just maybe, the economy will have the breathing room it needs to turn this into a real recovery.

    Shhh! Don’t tell Republicans that…they are counting on the reverse to help their election chances next year…

    And so now the US is a haven for burger-flippers.

    What do you expect when so many manufacturing jobs go elsewhere? But hey, it’s all about the free trade…

  15. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    What do you expect when so many manufacturing jobs go elsewhere?

    Between OSHA and EPA and NLRB constantly attacking the manufacturing industries, what do you expect them to do?

  16. Hey Norm says:

    Clearly McGuire’s best hope for America is polluted air, child labor, and sub $1hr wages. He is closely aligned with the views of folks like the Koch Bros.

  17. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Clearly McGuire’s best hope for America is polluted air, child labor, and sub $1hr wages. He is closely aligned with the views of folks like the Koch Bros.

    Clearly you are an idiot. And by the Koch Bros., I assume you mean the ones who provide active employment to ~50,000 people in the USA in the manufacturing industry and others, right?

  18. Hey Norm says:

    McGuire’s response consists of a personal attack and what I can only assume is an implication that because the Koch Bros employ a lot of people they should be able to make whatever demands they please. McDonalds is hiring that many this month. Should Ronald get carte blanche to foul our air and rivers and pay it’s employees $00.50hr?

  19. Steve Verdon says:

    Clearly McGuire’s best hope for America is polluted air, child labor, and sub $1hr wages. He is closely aligned with the views of folks like the Koch Bros.

    And Norm’s hope for America is based on wide spread unemployment and those employed are significantly under-employed. And let me guess Soylent Green is people?

    Fun game to play Norm, thanks.

  20. hey norm says:

    Verdon…your post has no basis in anything I said. Not suprising…I’m just sayin’

  21. Southern Hoosier says:

    Nice, but the US population is increasing by 270,000 a month. Job growth is not keeping up with population growth.

  22. Steve Verdon says:

    Neither does your response to Patrick Norm. You really think that even in the extreme case that if the EPA disappeared tomorrow firms would rush out and start polluting like they used too? That work places would be dangerous places? I really doubt it.

    Do government agencies look continually for reasons to justify their budgets? Do they look for new areas into which to expand to ensure that they can continue to exist? I would argue yes. Does that place a growing burden on the private sector? Quite possibly.

    Or as Bill Clinton once put it, sometimes it is better to live with the problem than to have a more costly regulatory solution. That is how I read Patrick’s post. I think it is a bit naive in that manufacturing employment is declining world wide (i.e. the causes probably have more to do with technological advancement and automation than it does with an overbearing regulatory structure), but to jump to the conclusion that he favors child labor, dangerous work conditions and extremely low wages is insulting.

  23. wr says:

    Steve — In several states with newly elected Republican majorities, the legislatures are working to overturn child labor laws. In Florida, the new Republican majority is wiping out all funds for environmental protection, as well as the agency that regulates development. The Right is trying to eliminate the EPA and hates OSHA.

    But for some reason we’re all supposed to believe that they just don’t mean it? That if all regulation goes away, they’ll just keep on acting as if the regulators were still there — just becaause they’re swell folks?

    Sorry, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been tempted to buy that bridge in Brooklyn…

  24. anjin-san says:

    You really think that even in the extreme case that if the EPA disappeared tomorrow firms would rush out and start polluting like they used too? That work places would be dangerous places? I really doubt it.

    Yea. Because human nature has changed, right?

  25. john personna says:

    Neither does your response to Patrick Norm. You really think that even in the extreme case that if the EPA disappeared tomorrow firms would rush out and start polluting like they used too? That work places would be dangerous places? I really doubt it.

    What an amazing paragraph. The nineteenth century was full of bad examples: industry knowingly risking public and worker safety. The watchdog agencies were put in place as a response.

    But Steve doesn’t ask us about that. His question is about the pace of their regression, should the agencies be removed.

    Would they rush out? No? It’s ok then. Never mind where we’d surely end up in a decade or two.

  26. Eric Florack says:

    Let’s put this in perspective:

    Recently there has been a surge in cherry picked employment charts highlighting that the Obama administration has done a great job in rescuing the economy. The premise goes: after dropping to as much as 700K+ jobs lost per month, the administration has managed to pull off a miraculous recovery and now we are riding on a wave of 8 consecutive “private jobs” beats in a row. This argument is so shallow we won’t even bother with it.

    Perhaps the “economists” who espouse this theory will be so kind in their next iteration of their charts to overlay the monthly US debt issuance side by side with the jobs number. Because you see if you drown the economy in unrepayable debt, while using transfer payments to fund the digging of trenches by every man, woman and child who makes up the labor pool, then yes – you may get 0%, or even negative, unemployment overnight. Will it bankrupt the country (even faster)? Why, of course. But whoever said those who discuss politics subjectively ever care about the long-term implications of reality.

    So in the vein of sharing pretty charts, here is one: we show job losses since the beginning of the Recession (excluding for the impact of census hiring), juxtaposed to the natural growth rate of the Labor Pool (and not the artificial one, which according to the BLS is the same now as it was a year ago).

    We discover that i) 7.6 Million absolute jobs have been lost since the beginning of the Recession; ii) that a record 10.5 Million jobs (and you won’t find this statistic anywhere), have been lost when factoring in for the natural growth of the Labor Pool of 90-100K a month (we use the lower estimate, which also happens to be the CBO’s estimate), and that iii) assuming we expect to return to the jobs baseline level as of December 2007 (or an unemployment rate of 5%) by the end of Obama’s second term (and we make the big assumption there will be a second term), Obama needs to create 230,000 jobs each and every month consecutively from September through November 2016 in order for the total jobs lost to be put back into the labor force, and that iv) an optimistic (if more realistic) projection of jobs returning to the work force means the return the baseline will occur in 2019, some 7 years after the start of the last recession.

    Now, note the passage about an unpayable debt, which Obama has massively added to since this article was written…. and also that the number of total uneployed has risen dramatically since the time it was written.

    Obama’s policies are not even breaking even in Job creation, nor will they.

  27. Eric Florack says:

    As for the EPA, it’s amazing… I’ve been saying for decades there’s no free lunch. There are consequences to be had for the kind of feel-good policies we’re chasing. It surprises me not at all that we’re now paying that price… and that the left, even while the country drowns ina sea of unemployment and debt, can’t seem to bring itself to terms with it’s agenda being the proximate cause.

  28. anjin-san says:

    There are consequences to be had for the kind of feel-good policies we’re chasing

    Not having our rivers catch on fire?

  29. john personna says:

    There are no free lunches, but there have been contaminated lunches.

  30. Eric Florack says:

    So, EU actually believe that that’s the alternative those are the only two choices?
    I submit to you that the case of the EPA, like another leftist bit of bedrock, the union, actually served a purpose when it was first pounded. Subsequently it’s done nothing but maker situation worse.

    and again, it surprises me not all that you can’t get your arms around that one.

  31. Eric Florack says:
  32. Wiley Stoner says:

    What part of if we continue on the path we are on, nobody gets anything, cause there is nothing to get. You want the rich (someone else) to pay your way? FOAD. You are nothing but theves. You just want the government to steal the money for you. If you trust anything this administration says, you are a sucker. You gave Obama hope and all you got back was change. Change from a free society to one controlled by the government. If you want socialism move to North Korea and starve like you deserve.
    Eric, they have been drinking the koolaid here so long they not only do not know the truth, they do not recognize it when they hear it. You just cannot fix stupid.

  33. An Interested Party says:

    You want the rich (someone else) to pay your way? FOAD. You are nothing but theves.

    Fancy you should write that, as someone else paid for your unemployment checks…

    If you want socialism move to North Korea and starve like you deserve.

    Along the same lines, if you want freedom from government, move to Somalia and get whatever you deserve…

  34. Rob in CT says:

    As somebody who deals with environmental insurance claims all day, I can tell you this: companies will pollute if they are not forced to clean up (and some will still pollute). They have in the past.

    The EPA (and, let’s remember, each equivalent state agency, each of which would still exist if you magically erased the EPA) can make mistakes. It wields a great deal of power and can be used as a clumsy hammer. Or it can be the only thing that brings an extremely powerful corporation to heel (not in the “OBEY ME!” sense, but in the “don’t pour that crap in the river!” sense).

    It might be true that removing the EPA would not instantly send us back to the bad old days – inertia is a good thing at times. Our culture has changed somewhat. But not THAT much. At the end of the day if it’s profitable to externalize pollution, companies will do it.

    If you think the EPA is a bad thing, ok, but you’ve gotta have a workable solution other than “the market will sort it out.” Years ago I read libertarians arguing that the courts, enforcing property rights properly, are the solution. Given how much the Right tends to hate lawyers, though, I rather doubt that’s the plan.

  35. Steve Verdon says:

    wr and anjin-san,

    No, but this isn’t the 1800’s either. We are well past the industrial revolution and we also don’t have an agrarian based economy (children have been working for far longer than the time of the robber barons in the mid to late 1800s). Many parents understand the value of an education and that delaying that low income by sending their children to school is the preferred alternative (and that isn’t the only effect).

    JP,

    What an amazing paragraph. The nineteenth century was full of bad examples: industry knowingly risking public and worker safety. The watchdog agencies were put in place as a response.

    Yes and we also have a legal structure that would prevent a return to that kind of situation. The idea that we could simply by abolishing a couple of federal/state agencies is laughable.

    Would they rush out? No? It’s ok then. Never mind where we’d surely end up in a decade or two.

    I doubt we’d even see that. A great deal of our bureaucratic structure is out-dated and enforcing regulations that can probably be safely ignored. Government bureaucracies are the worst kind of bureaucracies because they never ever truly want to succeed, or if they do they actively engage in mission creep/expansion. This is why government size and scope always expands and never contracts.

    Now when we see we don’t have endless amounts of money to fling at problems and we might have to start looking to make cuts the cry is rivers will burn, children will be enslaved and so forth.

    Yeah we can raise taxes and not see a huge negative impact on the economy. We could probably return to the rates under Clinton with little to no “pain”. Problem is that by itself is not enough. So, lets increase taxes, and put spending on a pretty steep path back to 20% of GDP. Cuts will have to be made, and the rich will have to pay more.