Wall Street expectations for decent job growth in April were smashed when the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that an estimated 288,000 jobs were added last month. (Wall Street analysts had predicted a more modest 218,000.) The BLS also announced that the unemployment rate plummeted to 6.3 percent, the lowest since prior to the 2008 recession. And in more good news: March's figure was revised upward to 203,000 from 192,000.
Critics may point to a slightly negative note — most of the decrease in the unemployment rate came from people dropping out of the labor force. The labor force participation rate fell to 62.8 percent from 63.2 percent. The recovery has been a long, slow process and this dramatic drop in unemployment isn't quite as positive as it might seem at first glance.
But the bigger point is that stronger-than-expected job creation undermines the argument that the relatively weak growth data for the first quarter released earlier this week shows that the economy isn't really recovering. It boosts the argument that the first quarter slump in growth — and, indeed in job creation — was more of a problem with the weather.
The key point I'd take away is that over the past year, full-time employment is up 2.4 million. Part-time employment is down 255,000. The recovery marches on. John Aziz
Donald Trump told a crowd of 12,000 people in Charleston, West Virginia, on Thursday night that he is disappointed the Republican primary is over, because "it's no fun this way." His campaign had invited hundreds of coal miners to stand behind him for his first rally as presumptive Republican nominee, and Trump touted an endorsement from the West Virginia Coal Association, criticized Hillary Clinton for saying she wants to phase out coal energy, and said, "We need to put our miners back to work!" He then put on a mining helmet the coal association had given him, fussed with his hair, and went on an extended riff about hair spray.
"You know, you're not allowed to use hair spray any more because it affects the ozone — you know that, right?" Trump said. "Hair spray is not like it used to be. It used to be real good. ... In the old days, when you put on the hair spray on, it was good. Today you put the hair spray on, it's good for 12 minutes, right? ... So I said, 'If I take hairspray, and I spray it in my apartment — which is all sealed — and you're telling me that affects the ozone layer? Yes. I say, no way, folks." (Unless he buys his hair spray from a developing country, he's right — ozone-depleting CFC aerosol sprays were banned in the U.S. during the Reagan administration.)
Trump didn't just go after Clinton on coal. He said the Clinton Foundation is "disgusting," talked about the FBI investigation into her emails, and in criticizing NAFTA and other trade deals signed by Bill Clinton, alluded to Bill Clinton's extramarital dalliances. "The Clinton administration, of which Hillary was definitely a part — she was a part of almost everything. Almost, I say, not everything. Almost," Trump said, pausing for comic affect. Then he pretended to scold the crowd's dirty minds: "Terrible. I didn’t think the people of West Virginia thought about that. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Terrible, terrible people." Peter Weber
An recent CNN/ORC poll has Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 13 percentage points nationally, which is obviously not great news for Donald Trump. But at CNN's magic wall on Thursday night, John King found some silver linings in Trump's gray clouds. In the upper Midwest, for example, Trump holds a big advantage over Clinton on handling of the economy, a common issue people base their votes on. If Trump wins Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida, King pointed out, and won every other state Mitt Romney took in 2012, he will be the next president. If he wins all those states but Pennsylvania, it's an electoral college tie.
"Yes, Hillary Clinton enters with an advantage, but if Donald Trump can do some business across the Rust Belt, he can make this a very competitive election," King told Anderson Cooper. The Clinton and Trump campaigns are playing out all sorts of scenarios on which states they might be able to flip from 2012 — the Clinton camp is eyeing Arizona, for example. "They think the map is going to be different this year, because this year is very different, Anderson." Watch some of the 2016 scenarios play out on CNN's magic wall below. Peter Weber
As soon as he became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump dropped his opposition to large donations and super PACs, and started working to build up a war chest with the Republican National Committee. He got some good financial news on Thursday night, when fellow Republican billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson said he will support Trump. "Yes, I'm a Republican, he's a Republican," Adelson told The New York Times at a World Value Network gala in New York City. "He's our nominee. Whoever the nominee would turn out to be, any one of the 17 — he was one of the 17. He won fair and square."
Trump wasn't Adelson's first choice for GOP nominee, but the two men met in December, and Adelson said they discussed Israel and he found Trump "very charming." Trump is winning over other deep-pocketed Republicans, too, either through charm or lack of other options. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), whose family bankrolled an anti-Trump super PAC, Our Principles, will endorse Trump at a rally on Friday, his aides said. In February, Trump threatened the governor's family, tweeting: "I hear the Rickets family, who owns the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $'s against me. They better be careful; they have a lot to hide." But Ricketts "has said for months that he would support the Republican nominee," said spokesman Taylor Gage. Peter Weber
Tuesday's primary elections in Indiana knocked out Ted Cruz and John Kasich, but Bernie Sanders isn't going anywhere," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. "Of course he's not dropping out, he's living every old person's dream: Wherever he goes, thousands of grandkids show up to listen to his stories." Colbert celebrated Sanders staying in until the convention by convincing CBS to spring for a real video game based on the fake one Colbert debuted on his show recently. If you go to the site for "Bubble Burst Bernie," Colbert said, "you can control Bernie Sanders — so billionaires are not allowed to play. Go on there and see if you can beat the high score. Of course, thanks to Hillary Clinton's superdelegates, you never can." Play here, and watch below. Peter Weber
"On Mother's Day, we tell our moms how much we love them," Jimmy Kimmel said on Thursday's Kimmel Live, "but there's some things we don't ever tell them." To rectify that, he sent a camera crew out on the street to ask people the biggest lie they ever told their mother — with their mother standing next to him or her. And, amazingly, people did it. "Please enjoy this special Mother's Day confessional," Kimmel said. You can, below.
As a bonus Mother's Day gift, on Wednesday's show, Kimmel had members of his own staff read text messages they got from their own mothers — and it's pretty great, too. Watch below — and don't forget to call (or text?) your mother on Sunday, if you are able. Peter Weber
The USO turned 75 on Thursday, and its birthday party at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland was attended by President and Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, and hosted by Jon Stewart. Stewart kicked off the evening by welcoming the various branches of the military, making a joke about the "joint" part of Joint Base Andrews, and introducing Biden.
"He's always a guy, you know, we had a lot of fun with ... he's a guy that's unpredictable," Stewart said, after noting Biden's long history with the military and military families. "He'll say whatever he kind of thinks of, whatever comes to his mind, sort of impulsive. Sometimes, you might think to yourself, 'That sounds crazy,' or 'Man, that is crazy.' And who would have thought that now, that gets you the Republican nomination." That got a loud reaction. "Don't worry," Stewart said, "Trump's gonna keep you busy. You're going to have to repaint all the planes with TRUMP in big gold letters." "I was going to say something nice about Jon, but to hell with him," Biden joked when he walked up to the podium.
When David Letterman walked out to cut the cake, his beard made Stewart's look like 5 o'clock stubble. He joked about someone backstage mistaking him for Walt Whitman, ribbed Obama and Biden for talking like they were running for office again, and said it was easy to get him to agree to the gig. "I'm pretty much ready to go and happy to be out of the house."
After Letterman ushered out the cake, the rest of the show — featuring comedians like Judd Apatow, Hasan Minhaj, Kristen Schaal, and Jeff Ross — was closed to the media. "You are in store tonight for what will be the best show in the United States tonight," Letterman said. "Except maybe Hamilton." Peter Weber
After the U.S. Treasury announced it is kicking President Andrew Jackson off the front of the $20 bill to make room for Harriet Tubman, former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) penned an op-ed in The Washington Post defending Jackson. The "Confederate Flag fanboy urged Americans to shut up with our 'political correctness' and 'deliberate divisiveness' and celebrate the total awesomeness of Andrew Jackson," Samantha Bee summarized in a Full Frontal video posted Thursday. "We're glad to oblige."
For the next 2 minutes, Bee narrates a pretty NSFW recap of Jackson's career, from his owing slaves to the Native American trail of tears, with a financial crisis thrown in for good measure. At the end, she brought Jackson's legacy back to the present day, linking him with a certain man running for president. "Already wealthy by the time he took office, Jackson nonetheless courted poor, uneducated voters by stoking resentment toward the elite class," she said. "Angry, xenophobic, knee-jerk populism: Old Hickory's giant middle finger still flipping us off, nearly 200 years later." Still, while Bee called Jackson "America's worst president," Old Hickory's takedown was also billed as "Part 1 of a 44-part series." So stay tuned? Peter Weber