115,000 jobs added in April, unemployment falls to 8.1%

Marketplace Contributor May 4, 2012

David Brancaccio: The government released its closely-watched employment report for April this morning. While the unemployment rate ticked down to 8.1 percent, only 115,000 new jobs were added to payrolls for the month — well below forecasts.

Joining me live is Marketpalce’s New York bureau chief Heidi Moore. Heidi, good morning.

Heidi Moore: Good morning.

Brancaccio: So, some cause for concern looking at this numbers.

Moore: Yeah — that 115,000 jobs added is well below what Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, needs to see to say that the economy is growing. And what also doesn’t help is that the labor force participation is only 63 percent. So 63 percent of the country is participating in the labor force — that’s the lowest since 1981. So clearly those are not good signs.

Brancaccio: But it’s not all downbeat news. I mean, take a look at this unemployment rate — 8.1 percent is the lowest in what, like three years?

Moore: Yeah, we can really get somewhere with this actually. We’re in no-man’s land, but on the optimistic side, it was 8.9 percent a year ago, now it’s 8.1 percent, the unemployment rate. The average duration of unemployment fell to the lowest point in a year — so people are not as unemployed for long. And then when you talk about marginally attached workers — who are looking for jobs, but not really — that is also unchanged. And you have the long-term unemployed at 5.1 million — that’s unchanged. So at least we’re not hemorrhaging on most of these, which is good.

Brancaccio: As I take a look at the data, one figure just sticks out at me. Imagine the people behind this figure: 968,000 people just discouraged from the workforce; they’ve given up looking.

Moore: Yes, and that’s a huge issue. That’s the thing that we all have to fix — that structural issue. How can we get those people back to work?

Brancaccio: All right, Marketplace’s New York bureau chief Heidi Moore. Thank you.

Moore: Thank you.


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