The U.S. economy added nearly a quarter million jobs in April, as businesses stepped up their hiring, the Department of Labor announced Friday. The April figure was stronger than expected — and the government also revised its earlier estimates for February and March, to show that 46,000 more jobs had been created than previously thought. But a separate Labor Department survey — which tracks job growth by households rather than through employer payrolls — says the unemployment rate ticked up from 8.8 percent to 9 percent. The White House is calling the data "good news." Is it really?
These numbers are a real "relief": Friday's report "didn't just greatly exceed expectations," says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly, "it's arguably the single best month for jobs since the Great Recession began in 2007." The total number of jobs created is the third highest since the start of the recession, and it's actually the best if you exclude temporary bumps in past months from Census jobs. These numbers definitely show some "significant steps in the right direction."
"April shows surprisingly strong job growth"
The overall picture is still very murky: Yes, Friday's data is "good news," says Kevin Drum at Mother Jones. But it was only Thursday that we saw "a slew of bad economic reports, including a huge rise in the number of new unemployment claims." So who knows where this recovery is really going. "Basically, we're undergoing a fragile, unsteady recovery, and I'm not sure you can say an awful lot more than that with any confidence."
"Good news, bad news"
Actually, the numbers are worse than they look: The jobs report sounded great at first, but there was actually "more bad news than met the eye," says Jeff Cox at CNBC. The higher unemployment rate might not have been bad if it meant that "millions of discouraged workers were coming off the sidelines and looking for jobs." Unfortunately, "nothing in the data suggests that." And the "real" unemployment rate, which includes people "who are working part-time but who want full-time work," actually rose. "There is reason to cheer, but also some things to fear."
"Jobs report has more bad news than good news"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Yes, Republicans can impeach President Obama
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
- What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex
- Why Texas' abortion rates aren't falling as quickly as everyone expected
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- The 6 best low-cost smartphones
- The NFL is terrified of the culture war
Subscribe to the Week