STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Thousands of Americans went back to work in April, as private companies added the most jobs in a month since 2006. But the nation’s unemployment rate was up slightly — two-tenths of a percent — to 9 percent for the month. It’s a labor department report that has some analysts scratching their heads.
Economist Gary Burtless is with the Brookings Institution and he’s with us from Washington this morning. Good morning sir.
GARY BURTLESS: Good morning.
CHIOTAKIS: So, what’s your take-away from these numbers?
BURTLESS: Well, it’s reasonable good. It’s not spectacular. Unfortunately part of the drop in the unemployment rate since late last fall is due to the fact that people are discouraged and they’re dropping out of the work force. Part of it is due to the fact that that there’s been an increase in the number of people reporting that they hold jobs. But let’s be clear, for the economy to rebound to where it was at the end of the last economic expansion, we still need over 10 million additional jobs. And the pace of job creation — even at the accelerated rate since last November — is just too slow to reduce the number of jobless at the pace that we need.
CHIOTAKIS: Is the economy able to do that? Can we do that? Can we create 10 million jobs?
BURTLESS: Well in past recessions that were as deep as this recent one, there was also a very fast rebound of the economy. Two things make the current situation different than those recessions in the mid-70s and the early 1980s. The first is that productive growth is running considerably stronger now than it was back then. So that means even with the same growth in the economy fewer additional people would get jobs. The second thing however is that the pace of the economy’s expansion in this recovery is substantially slower than it was in those previous deep recessions. So the economy isn’t growing as fast coming out of the recession as it did in the past and we need faster economic growth in order to increase employment at the same pace as we did in the past.
CHIOTAKIS: Gary Burtless with the Brookings Institutions. Thank you.
BURTLESS: Thank you.
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