Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 4 May 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

The Monster employment index rose three points in April to 146.

The headline numbers of the Employment Situation were that 120,000 net new jobs were created in April, well below expectations of 165,000 jobs. Added to that weak report were that both weekly hours and hourly wages were unchanged for the month, indicating no serious increase in pressure for hiring or demand for labor. (Well, actually, hourly earnings rose 1¢. Meh.) The unemployment rate, however, declined by 0.1% to 8.1%, which is anything but a good sign. That’s because, in the last month, the labor force again shrank from 154,707,000 in March to 154,365,000 in April, as 342,000 workers left the labor force. Likewise, the labor force participation rate declined to 63.6%, the lowest since December, 1981. Additionally, 141,865,000 people were employed in April, down from 142,034,000 in March, a decline of 169,000 in the number of people employed. So, once again the "decline" in the unemployment rate is nothing more than a decline in the labor force that is faster than the decline in employment. The headline number covers a lot of ugly details in the "A" tables of the report. As always, I’d point out that, if the labor force participation rate were at the historical average of 66.2%, the actual unemployment rate for April would be 11.73%, up from 11.56% in March. Overall, it’s a pretty negative report.

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Dale Franks
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