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The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, seasonally adjusted, the economy added 165,000 jobs for the month. That made April the 31st consecutive month for which the government has reported that job gains have exceeded losses. The report exceeded expectations and had some added good news with its revisions for March. Gains for that month went from the 88,000 jobs originally reported to 138,000. For February, the revisions raised the previously reported gains from 268,000 to 332,000. February thus showed the highest monthly gain since April 2005.

The private sector grew by 176,000 jobs. Governments at all levels lost a total of 11,000 jobs. Last April, the seasonally adjusted gain was 112,000 private- and public-sector jobs.

Those unemployed for six months or more fell to 4.4 million. The civilian labor force participation ratio held steady at 63.3 percent, its lowest level since 1979; the employment-population ratio rose to to 58.6 percent.

Those added jobs constitute the BLS's category of "U3." But the BLS also measures the alternatively under the category of "U6." This tallies workers who are part-time not by choice but for "economic reasons": They want full-time jobs but can't find them. It also counts some but not all Americans who want jobs but stopped looking for one 12 months or more ago. The U6 rate for April rose to 13.8 percent. Add up the 11.7 million who are officially unemployed (U3), the 7.9 million underemployed (U6), and the 6.4 million not in the labor force but who want a job, and the total is 26 million unemployed and underemployed Americans. The numbers for April were just slightly higher than the monthly after since April of last year.

"The job market looks better than expected despite the sequester or issues like the rising cost of providing health care benefits," said Kathy Bostjancic, director of macroeconomic analysis for the Conference Board.

"The concern should be that sustaining this pace of hiring might prove difficult through the spring and summer months, as other key data signal that another spring swoon appears to be underway," she added. "Consumer spending power is rising slowly and sentiment is still very weak."

Heidi Shierholz at the Economic Policy Institute had a different point of view:
This is a classic “hold-steady” report—enough job growth to keep the unemployment rate stable but not much more. In good times, this would be fine, but at a time like this, it represents an ongoing disaster. We need around 8.6 million jobs to get back to health in the labor market. The average growth rate so far in 2013 is 196,000 new jobs a month; at that rate, it will take more than five years to return to prerecession levels of employment.
For more details about today's jobs report, please continue reading below the fold.

As I have previously explained:

The government's BLS jobs report is the product of a pair of surveys, one of more than 410,000 business establishments called Current Employment Statistics, and one called the Current Population Survey, which questions 60,000 householders. The establishment survey determines how many new jobs were added, always calculated on a seasonally adjusted basis. The CPS provides data that determine the official "headline" unemployment rate, also known as "U3." That's the number which is now 7.5 percent.

The BLS report only provides a snapshot of what's happening at a single point in time. The jobs-created-last-month-numbers that it reports are not "real." Not because of a conspiracy, but because BLS statisticians apply seasonal adjustments to the raw data, estimate the number of jobs created by the "birth" and "death" of businesses, use other filters. In the fine print, they tell us that the actual number of newly created jobs reported is actually plus or minus 100,000.

This means the economy could have added as few as 65,000 jobs in April or as many as 265,000. As better data are obtained, the BLS revises its count each month for the previous two months. Today's numbers will be fine-tuned in the June and July reports just as February's and March's were revised substantially upward by today's.

•••

Here's what the job growth numbers looked like in April for the previous 10 years. These data have been recalculated via the BLS's annual benchmark revisions:

April 2003: -    51,000
April 2004: + 247,000    
April 2005: + 362,000
April 2006: + 181,000
April 2007: +   76,000
April 2008: -  215,000
April 2009: -  704,000
April 2010: + 229,000  
April 2011: + 304,000
April 2012: + 112,000
April 2013: + 165,000

Among other changes in today's job report:

Professional services: + 73,000
Leisure & hospitality: + 38,000
Health care: + 19,000
Retail trade: + 29,000
• The average workweek (for production and non-supervisory workers) fell 0.2 hour to 34.4 hours.
• Average manufacturing hours fell 0.1 to 40.7 hours.
• The average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose 4 cents from March's revised figure to $23.87.

Adjusted for inflation, these hourly wages have been nearly flat for four years.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri May 03, 2013 at 06:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos Economics and Daily Kos.

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