The economy added a paltry 115,000 jobs last month—a notable downturn from this year’s earlier, more promising jobs reports and a possible sign of a stalling recovery. The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent, though only because people are dropping out of the work force.
The year got off to a promising start, when the first jobs report of the official election year revealed 212,000 jobs were added in December. January saw 243,000 jobs added, followed by 227,000 jobs in February. But March dipped to 120,000 jobs, and now we see 115,000 in April. (Some of these numbers have since been revised slightly).
Last year there was a similar early bump, followed by a slow decline in hiring. Could it be happening again? “April’s employment growth of only 115,000 jobs, along with a decline in labor force participation, is sobering news for workers and the economy,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project in a statement. “The economy needs a boost, with more investment to create jobs and higher wages for workers to stimulate greater demand.”
Here are some highlights of the jobs data:
There were 15,000 public sector job losses, which is up from last month and helped offset some growth in the public sector. The education field absorbed 10,700 of these public sector jobs losses. While private sector jobs growth has been positive for many months, 601,000 public sector jobs have been lost since June 2009.
Long-term unemployment continues to be a problem. The April jobs report revealed the average unemployed American has been without work for 39.1 weeks, or about nine months. Over 40 percent of the unemployed have been out of work for more than six months.
There are 7.9 million people working part-time involuntarily, and 2.4 million have stopped searching. This means that in total, there are 22.8 million people either unemployed or underemployed, creating a “real” unemployment rate of 14.5 percent.
Retail, restaurants and bars, healthcare and manufacturing sectors all enjoyed modest gains, while the transportation and warehousing saw job losses.
A small glimmer of hope—temporary help services saw an increase in hiring last month, which is usually a positive indicator of future, permanent hiring.
There are only six months until the federal elections, so naturally the jobs report takes on huge import.