The jobs report released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the labor market added 165,000 jobs in April and that the unemployment rate hardly budged, moving just six-hundredths of a percentage point, from 7.57 percent to 7.51 percent. This means there were enough jobs to keep the unemployment rate stable, but not much more. While this report would be fine in good times, at a time of persistent economic weakness, it represents an ongoing disaster. Further, labor force participation held steady in April at 63.3 percent, its low of the downturn and far below its prerecession rate of 66.0 percent in December 2007. In her analysis, EPI economist Heidi Shierholz notes that even though we are adding jobs, the labor force participation rate is not improving because it is still a very difficult environment for job seekers, with unemployment well over 7 percent, underemployment at 13.9 percent, and 37.4 percent of job seekers unemployed for more than six months. The workers who are out of the labor force due to weak job opportunities will not join the labor force in large numbers until job prospects are strong enough that they won’t face months of fruitless job search.
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