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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Unemployment rate at 8.1%, only 115K jobs added, participation rate shrinks again to new low

The April jobs report fell short of analysts expectations, as only 115,000 jobs were added. Consensus expectations had been in the 165K-170K range, which still would have been below the rate jobs were added in February, January, and December. While the jobless rate dropped slightly, the number of jobs added came in short of March’s disappointing level:

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 115,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 8.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in professional and business services, retail trade, and health care, but declined in transportation and warehousing.

Both the number of unemployed persons (12.5 million) and the unemployment rate (8.1 percent) changed little in April. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.5 percent), adult women (7.4 percent), teenagers (24.9 percent), whites (7.4 percent), and Hispanics (10.3 percent) showed little or no change in April, while the rate for blacks (13.0 percent) declined over the month. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.2 percent in April (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 5.1 million in April. These individuals made up 41.3 percent of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed has fallen by 759,000. (See table A-12.)

So how did the jobless rate drop? The same way it’s been dropping all along — people exiting the workforce:

The civilian labor force participation rate declined in April to 63.6 percent, while the employment-population ratio, at 58.4 percent, changed little.

That’s a new 30-year low in the participation rate. Here’s the chart from the BLS for the last 30 years:

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