April employment report: mediocre job gains as unemployment rate slips to 8.1%

Estimates vary widely, but the 115,000 jobs added in April in the U.S. is about the number needed to keep pace with population growth.

So that’s not a disastrous number under normal circumstances, but it looks pretty bad considering the deep hole we still need to climb out of.

From the BLS:

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 115,000 in April, and the unemployment
rate was little changed at 8.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported today. Employment increased in professional and business services,
retail trade, and health care, but declined in transportation and warehousing.

Of course, the economy didn’t really add 115,000 jobs in April — that statistic is a seasonal adjustment taking into account ordinary seasonal changes in employment. And seasonality might be more relevant here than anything else: the strong job gains in the winter months appear to have been boosted by warm weather to a significant degree. That would mean that we’re now seeing lower numbers directly because of the early surge.

And that means that the economy remains very sluggish, something most people don’t need statistics to prove to them.

There’s frankly little that stands out in any of the data. Even though the unemployment rate fell a tiny notch, so too did the laborforce participation rate.

The broader U-6 measure of unemployment (“Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force”) remained unchanged at 14.5%.

A couple of graphs from the BLS: