This morning’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 115,000 jobs were added in April. This is a drop from recent months, but given seasonal factors, the average job growth of the last three months – 176,000 jobs – is probably the best measure of the current underlying trend. This trend is well above the roughly 100,000 jobs per month we need to keep the unemployment rate stable, so the labor market continues to very slowly improve, but it is a far cry from the 300,000 or 400,000 jobs we would need per month to get back to full employment in a reasonable timeframe.
The unemployment rate ticked down by one-tenth of a percent to 8.1 percent in April, but that was due to people dropping out of the labor force, not an increase in the share of the working-age population with jobs. The labor force participation rate dropped to its low of the downturn, 63.6 percent.