Reactions to the Jobs Report
Posted at 10:51 a.m. on May 2
Ben Casselman says this month’s jobs report was a very strange one.
“Start here: The number of jobs rose by 288,000, but the number of Americans who are employed fell by 73,000. How is that possible? The two numbers are based on separate surveys, one of businesses (which gives us the number of ‘nonfarm jobs’ added or lost each month) and one of households (which gives us the number of people who are employed and unemployed). Theoretically, it’s possible for one to rise and the other to fall, because one person can have multiple jobs. But more often, when the two surveys diverge, it’s the result of measurement error.”
“Then there’s that huge drop in the unemployment rate, the biggest since December 2010. The government only considers people unemployed if they’re actively looking for work, and 733,000 fewer people met that definition in April than in March. The biggest drop was among people joining the labor force to look for work (either restarting a previously abandoned job search or entering the labor force for the first time, such as after graduating from school). That’s hardly a sign of confidence.”
Vox: “The labor force participation rate fell in April by 0.4 percentage points, from 63.2 percent to 62.8 percent. That level matches a 35-year low, and it may signal very bad things for the economy — it might mean that Americans have stopped looking for work. So who is leaving? The jobs report provides a few clues. One of the most striking is that less-educated Americans’ participation rates fell, while people with degrees in fact participated more.”