April is the cruelest month, breeding fewer jobs than expected.
As one economist put it on Twitter, you know you’re in a recovery when you’re disappointed by a jobs report like this. April was the worst month of the year for job creation, in part because of a warm winter that allowed outdoor work to start earlier than usual, and there’s an increasing sense that the economic engine is slowing down or idling while we wait on news from Europe or stronger signs of consumer confidence. Still, the usual suspects are pulling us forward—health care and manufacturing jobs helped lead growth—while the public sector continued to cut workers and the trucking industry made big cuts.
115,000. The number of jobs created in April, the lowest initial assessment the Bureau of Labor Statistics has released this year. That’s a disappointing result, keeping the unemployment rate basically unchanged at 8.1 percent—the market for work basically grew enough to meet population growth, but not much more.
53,000. The number of jobs added to the February and March counts by revised estimates. The warm winter weather likely pulled job gains forward from the spring and summer, but if the trend toward job growth is slowing, we know that the previous quarter was as robust, if not more robust, than we thought. We’re seeing about 30,000 jobs added with each revision this year.
132,989,000. The number of private-sector jobs in the country, which is now higher—by some 152,000 compared to February 2009—than when President Obama was inaugurated. That’s an important milestone for the political season: Obama will be able to defend himself from charges of relying on the government to lead growth, while Republicans will ask why it took so long.
15,000. The number of jobs cut by the public sector in April; most of those (11,000) are teachers. We have some 600,000 fewer local and state government employees than we did when Obama took office, despite his administration’s attempts to extend federal aid to cash-strapped local communities. The losses in the heavily female teaching profession are one reason that job losses for women have been high in the past several years, but state budgets are finally starting to look up, so perhaps education will see a rebound.
14.5 percent. The best gauge of unemployment, the “U-6” number measures the percent of workers who are unemployed, forced to work part-time, or have given up on finding a job. It’s holding steady at 14.5 percent, down from 15 percent at the beginning of the year and 17 percent from the heights of the recession. During healthier economic times we saw it hover around 7 or 8 percent.
Chart courtesy of Calculated Risk