Economy Sheds 169,000 Jobs in April

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that the economy added 115,000 jobs in April and that the unemployment rate fell 0.1% to 8.1% – thanks once again to over 340,000 job-seekers mysteriously vanishing from the labor force. 

While the jobs figure was a big disappointment to economists, who had been expecting job gains of 165,000, the really bad news was buried in the household survey data.  The “employment level” – the number of people working – actually fell by 169,000 – adding to the loss of 31,000 in March.  Had the labor force actually grown in proportion to growth in the population (which it actually does, of course), unemployment would have risen by 0.2% to 10.9%.  Here’s the spreadsheet that calculates unemployment and a more realistic figure that grows the labor force as the population grows:  Unemployment Calculation

And here’s a chart of the unemployment rates.  Note the widening gap between the BLS figures and the more realistic figures that grow the labor force with population growth:  Unemployment Chart

Per capita employment (a figure analagous to the BLS’s “labor force participation rate”) fell for the second month in a row:  Per Capita Employment.  And the number of unemployed Americans rose for the second month to its highest level in four months:  Unemployed Americans.

No doubt, the unemployment rate will continue to fall in the coming months as the November election approaches, regardless of how few jobs are added or how many jobs are actually lost. 

* * * * *

The jobs added in April (according to the establishment survey) break down as follows:

  • Professional & business services:  + 62,000
  • Retail trade:  + 29,000
  • Health care:  + 19,000
  • Leisure & hospitality:  + 20,000
  • Manufacturing:  + 16,000
  • Mining:  unchanged
  • Construction:  unchanged
  • Wholesale trade:  unchanged
  • Financial:  unchanged
  • Information:  unchanged
  • Government:  unchanged
  • Transportation & warehousing:  – 17,000

Here’s the BLS report:

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