No work for some despite jobs report

A "help wanted" sign is seen in the window of a laundromat.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Enough of the bad news, what about some good news for a change? We had some in the April unemployment report today -- 290,000 jobs were added to the economy last month. That's the biggest bump in private-sector jobs in four years. The unemployment rate did go up two-tenths of 1 percent to 9.9 percent. But that's not necessarily a bad thing because it means more people are out there looking for jobs because they believe they can get them. Of course, that "getting them" part is what's tricky.

Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman has our story.


Mitchell Hartman: Today's numbers were a pleasant surprise to economists, including David Smith at Pepperdine University. He says this pretty much seals the deal. The recovery's real and will last.

David Smith: It's better than expected, it's evidence to suggest we're not going to suffer a double-dip recession. Business and consumer confidence is picking up.

And employers are finally starting to replace some of the workers they laid off over the past two years. But Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution says there are still millions of people without paychecks.

Gary Burtless: By the end of last year, we had a deficit of 8.5 million jobs. It's going to take a lot of employment growth like we saw in April to erase that huge shortfall in jobs.

And, says Burtless, the people getting jobs now aren't likely to be the ones who've suffered unemployment the longest.

Burtless: Employers do tend to discount a lot of the qualifications of people who have been jobless for eight, 10, 12 months. They wonder, what might be the matter with these job candidates.

Steve Kirn of Chicago spent the last two years looking for a job.

Kirn: You'd see things that you thought you were really qualified for, send in applications where you knew you had to be a strong candidate, and then hear literally nothing.

Next month, Kirn starts running a retail education program at the University of Florida. He's one of the lucky ones. Long-term unemployment is at an all-time high.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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