The U.S. economy underperforms again in April, creating only 115,000 jobs. You can almost hear Mitt Romney cackle
The U.S. economy is stuck in spring mud. For the second month in a row, the United States labor market underperformed expectations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy created a lackluster 115,000 jobs in April. The unemployment rate fell one notch, to 8.1 percent, but for a distressing reason: The overall size of the U.S. labor force dropped by 342,000, a sign that hundreds of thousands of Americans simply gave up looking for work in April. The labor force participation rate fell to 63.6 percent, the lowest mark since 1981.
The only good news in the report: The numbers for February and March were both revised upward, from 240,000 to 259,000 in February, and from 120,000 to 154,000 in March. The economy is still growing. Indeed, over the past 12 months, the U.S has added 1.8 million private sector jobs.
The glum report comes as little surprise. While economic data points were all over the map in April, some key indicators — jobless claims, Wednesday’s ADP private sector labor report, and the first estimate of GDP growth for the first quarter of 2012 — all suggested that the economic recovery that seemed so robust over the winter was losing steam. The numbers aren’t bad enough to justify outright panic; Americans are still lustily buying cars, the manufacturing sector appears strong, and gas prices are dropping steadily for their recent highs – but it’s still very difficult to see signs of sustained momentum. This is the economy we’ve got right now. We can’t even blame austerity: Government payrolls dropped by only 15,000.
Ironically, on Thursday, Gallup’s presidential approval survey showed Obama at 51 percent, the highest mark he’s received since Seal Team Six took out Osama bin Laden. Conventional wisdom has assumed that Obama’s steadily improving approval ratings tracked the growing economy. If so, it will be interesting to see if those numbers start coming down again.
Mitt Romney, as one might expect, is already on the case. He promptly told Fox News that it was a “terrible job report.” That, strictly speaking, is not true. A “terrible” jobs report is one in which the economy loses half a million jobs or more in a single month — as was the case when Obama took office in 2009. (In fact, economist Justin Wolfers tweeted, April’s jobs report marks a milestone of sorts: Private sector job creation is, for the first time, in positive territory for the entirety of Obama’s term. Since January 2009, the private sector has added 35,000 jobs. The public sector, in contrast, has shed 607,000. So much for Big Government!)
April’s jobs report is disappointing, and could signal worse news to come, but there’s still a decent chance that we are just experiencing a bump in the road. By most measures, the U.S. economy is performing much better than it was a year ago.
More Related Stories
- Voting is not a right
- Destroying the planet for record profits
- Ahead of Obama's speech, U.S. acknowledges four American drone killings
- Pic of the day: Barack Obama at prom
- Anti-Islam backlash in London after machete attack
- Must-see morning clip: Bill O'Reilly visits "The Daily Show"
- Obama’s drone speech will probably be maddening
- Boehner: "Inconceivable" Obama didn't know about IRS targeting
- Obama to announce new effort to close Guantanamo Bay
- House supporters of KXL received $56m from fossil fuel industry
- Judge tells lesbian couple to separate -- or lose kids
- Obama to address drones, Guantánamo
- If Alex Pareene were a cable news executive...
- Portland's senseless war on fluoride
- Graphic video reportedly shows possible London machete attack suspect
- What economists get wrong about the jobs crisis
- Ted Cruz: "I don't trust the Republicans"
- Pa. governor "can't find" any Latinos to work in his administration
- Glenn Beck: "The American people have just been raped"
- "Original Coca-Cola had a very small amount of cocaine"
- Corporations accused of wrongdoing win battle to keep identities secret
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11