The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its seasonally adjusted calculations this morning that some 290,000 new jobs were created in April, far above the consensus of experts surveyed by Bloomberg earlier in the week. Those numbers were made better by the fact that only 66,000 of the new jobs were temporary Census hires, just two-thirds of what was expected. As large numbers of Americans returned to the labor force, the official unemployment rate rose to 9.9%. Some 15.3 million Americans are now officially out of work.
The U6 unemployment rate, an alternative measure that includes underemployed Americans and some who have become too discouraged to look for jobs, rose to 17.1%. The number of long-term unemployed, those without jobs for 27 weeks or more, rose to a new record high of 6.7 million.
Revisions showed February and March doing better than previously thought as well, rising 39,000 and 230,000 respectively.
Last April, 528,000 jobs were lost.
In the chart below, the red marks the Bush administration, the blue marks the Obama administration.
Click here for a larger image
Hiring of a total of about 970,000 temporary Census workers will continue through June, but the jobs will go away over the rest of 2010. So it falls to the private sector to make big gains over the next few months if a recovery in jobs is to sustain itself. Today's better numbers make that more of a possibility.
Employment rose 14,000 in construction, 44,000 in manufacturing, 20,000 in health care and 26,000 in temporary services. It held steady in the retail and wholesale trades. There were losses in transportation and warehousing.
Here's what the by now-iconic graph from Calculated Risk looks like:
Click here for larger image
Christine Hauser at The New York Times reports:
"The economy is turning; unfortunately it is not improving as much as one would hope given the downturn," said Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist for Miller Tabak and Company. "As companies come out of the downturn they are going to be somewhat reluctant to at least immediately increase their work force."
As a result, more than 9.2 million still relied on part-time employment in April.
"We are looking at jobs growth in the vicinity of 150,000 to 175,000 per month going forward," Peter Cardillo, chief market economist for Avalon Partners said. "That means the unemployment rate is going to stay on high level ground for a while."
Friday’s jobless data was the latest to contribute to a picture of a slowly improving economy, and analysts hoped the employment numbers would help to fuel the momentum of upturns in business confidence. ...
As of yet, however, the improvements have not ushered in a sustained hiring. "I just don’t think the average person in the street thinks that we are even out of the recession, said John Canally, an economist for LPL Financial.
Today's numbers will undoubtedly contribute to a growing optimism even though caveats remain. Earlier in the week, other economic numbers had given analysts the jitters. The Institute for Supply Management reported a six-year high in manufacturing activity, with the index up for the ninth month in a row, with a rate of growth faster than any since June 2004. The employment index component of the manufacturing report was solidly up. But the non-manufacturing report from ISM was weak, and its employment index decreased. Retail activity for April as measured by same-store sales was not expected to be as strong as in March, but sales turned out to be even weaker than expected. While consumers are spending more, they are doing so by drawing on savings and thanks to government benefits, many of which will soon expire.
Last Friday, presidential economic adviser Larry Summer said:
"The best way to put it is this: Forty years ago, one in 20 men [ages] 25 to 54, in America, was not working at a given point in time. ... Today, the number is not one in 20. It's one in five. And a good guess, based on extrapolations of trends in this area, is that when the economy recovers, five years from now, assuming we return to normal cyclical conditions, one in six men who are 25 to 54 will not be working at any point in time."
The BLS report also reported:
• The average workweek for production and non-supervisory workers rose to 33.4 hours.
• Average hourly earnings increased by 1 cent in April
• The civilian labor force participation rate rose to 65.2% in April.
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SilverOz has a diary on this subject here. New Deal democrat has one here.