Positivity in the April jobs report?

Job seeker gives a resume to a potential employer.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the economy added 165,000 jobs last month, beating analyst expectations. The unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent, the lowest since December of 2008. Does that mean a good spring and summer ahead?

"We're relieved, I would say," said The New York Times' Catherine Rampell. "The headline number was, you know, middling. It was fine. It was not nearly what the economy needs to recover a lot of the ground lost during the recession."

"But on the other hand," she continued, "there were a lot of economists out there who were worried that we were going to get a really bad number this month."

"I'll tell you what's really unfortunate about all this: Right now, policy is pushing in the wrong direction," said FT Alphaville's Cardiff Garcia. "So essentially earlier this year, payroll taxes went up on everybody. We now have the looming spending cuts from the sequestration issue. And unfortunately, even as a lot of other economic indicators are getting worse or at least are coming in worse than expected, policy isn't doing anything to help. And that leaves basically just the Federal Reserve -- but it too is somewhat constrained in what it's going to do."

"So I'm not too optimistic that things are going to rapidly accelerate from here -- relieved, though, I am."

For more analysis on the economy, listen to the full audio above.


Add these weekend reading suggestions to your list:

Catherine Rampell suggests:

  • How a team of sneaky librarians duped Al Qaeda
  • The New York Times' coverage on the Bangladesh factory collapse, and the retailers' role in it
  • Why professors at San Jose State won't use a Harvard professor's MOOC (massive open online course)

Cardiff Garcia chooses:

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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it's good to see that wall street is drinking the kool aid of these job reports. from where i stand, there are jobs out there, but companies just aren't hiring. i've seen the same jobs that i applied to keep coming around (e.g. get re-posted) like the back ground of a Fred Flintstone cartoon. the jobs are there, but companies just are afraid to hire. why is that?

Your recurring analysis of the monthly jobs report misses three important aspects of the employment situation:

--the labor participation rate
--the total number of jobs created during this so-called recovery relative to the number of jobs lost during the recession
--the quality of the jobs created

The labor participation rate is the lowest in 35 years. Jim Tankersley, in a Washington Post blog post of May 1, notes that "economist Heidi Shierholz of the liberal Economic Policy Institute estimates that non-inevitable (those who want to be working) workforce dropouts represent three-quarters of the decline in participation since the end of the recession. That’s about 4.4 million workers, by her calculations." (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/01/wonkfeud-fina...)

As to jobs created, Ben Casselman of the WSJ said this on May 1: "Nearly four years into the recovery, the U.S. still employs close to three million fewer people than when the recession began in December 2007. Nearly 12 million people remain unemployed, two-fifths of them for more than six months. Those people haven’t dropped out of the workforce, but they’re still a long way from finding work." (http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/05/01/labor-force-participation-feud...)

As to the quality of the jobs, they're in sectors famous for low wages, no benefits, and seasonal hiring. These are not the types of jobs that lead to good lives for people. David Rohde of Reuters mused about this back in January of 2012 (http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/2012/01/05/yes-were-creating-jobs-b...), and nothing's changed.

Maybe you should get these three journalists together the next time you want derive genuine meaning from the monthly jobs report, so that listeners don't have to do your research for you.

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