Quick Takes | Jobs and Unemployment

A jobs report that would be fine in good times represents an ongoing disaster now

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The jobs report showed that the labor market added 165,000 jobs in April and that unemployment hardly budged, moving just six-hundredths of a percentage point from 7.57 percent to 7.51 percent.  This is a classic “hold-steady” report—enough job growth to keep the unemployment rate stable but not much more.  In good times, this would be fine, but at a time like this, it represents an ongoing disaster.  We need around 8.6 million jobs to get back to health in the labor market.  The average growth rate so far in 2013 is 196,000 new jobs a month; at that rate, it will take more than five years to return to the prerecession unemployment rate.

The labor force participation rate held steady at 63.3 percent, a generation low. The length of the average workweek dropped from 34.6 to 34.4, a substantial drop that is not a good sign for future hiring.

See more work by Heidi Shierholz