People meet potential employers at a job fair held at the Jewish Community Center (JCC), on March 21, 2012 in New York City. Unemployment fell slightly last month, but the numbers don't tell the whole story. Not counted: the number of people who have given up looking for work.

Kai Ryssdal: I think we can fairly say the April unemployment report landed with a thud this morning. Just 115,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate is 8.1 percent.

It is, if you're counting, the third month in a row of slowing job growth. Marketplace's Amy Scott gets us going with the big picture.


Amy Scott: So, there is a little good news. The economy added more jobs in February and March than the Labor Department initially thought.

Jennifer Lee: Overall, the recovery is still continuing, but at a more modest, almost sluggish pace.

That’s economist Jennifer Lee with BMO Financial Group. And then there’s what looks like good news, but isn’t. Unemployment fell to its lowest rate in three years, but only because so many more people gave up the job hunt. What’s known as the labor participation rate is at a 30-year low.

Harry Holzer was chief economist with the Labor Department under President Clinton. He teaches at Georgetown.

Harry Holzer: Sometimes those people find other productive things to do for a while. They’re more likely to go to college and go to graduate school. People might stay home and decide they want to spend more time with their kids. But eventually a lot of those folks will want to come back into the job market.

That’ll mean even more pressure on the economy. Holzer says at this pace, it would take most of the decade to add enough jobs to really bring down unemployment.

I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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