Unemployment Drops 0.1% In April

WASHINGTON —The unemployment rate declined by 0.1% in April, to 7.5%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Businesses claimed to create 165,000 new jobs last month, a separate survey showed.

The decline represents a continued slow recovery, statistically if not in workers’ real lives, from the Great Recession, otherwise known as the Bush Crash. But it still left 11.66 million people seeking jobs last month, 83,000 fewer unemployed than in March.

Economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy and Re-search, a progressive think-tank, called the report “at best a mixed picture” for workers.
Job creation was “somewhat better than expected” in April and DOL also added 114,000 jobs to its reported February and March totals, he noted.

“However, job growth reported for April was unbalanced, with 34,600 — more than a fifth of the total — coming from employment services,” a low-paying sector, Baker said. And BLS data showed all but 3,000 of those jobs were temps. Even more jobs, 37,000, were created in another low-paying sector, comprising food services, bars and restaurants, BLS said. Other key points in its report included:

• Almost one of every seven workers, 13.9%, in April was unemployed, underemployed or so discouraged they stopped seeking work, up from 13.8% in March. And 37.4% of April’s jobless have been out of work at least six months, meaning they’ve exhausted their federal jobless benefits. That’s down from 39.6% in March and 40.2% in February.

• More than one in every eight construction workers, 13.2%, were officially jobless in April. Those 1.077 million jobless construction workers actually understate the case, building trades union leaders say, since even a worker toiling for one day during BLS’ survey week is counted as employed for the entire month. Construction firms actually shed 6,000 jobs in April, when building is supposed to start to pick up.

• Factory employment was unchanged in April at 11.99 million, while 963,000 factory workers (6.4%) were jobless. There were small factory job increases in cars (+2,400 jobs), machinery (+3,600) and fabricated metals (+2,500).

• Service firms claim they added 185,000 jobs in April. Other than the temps, the bars and the restaurants, the big gains were in truck transportation (+11,700 jobs) and ambulatory health care services, another low-paying sector (+13,600). Movies and sound recordings was the big job shedder in services (-10,500).

• Governments shed 11,000 jobs in April, split between the federal government
(-4,900), the Postal Service (-3,500) and local schools (-1,500)