Unemployment rate drops to 8.1%; reax throughout the day

By on May 4, 2012

The U.S. economy added 115,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell to 8.1%.

I’ll post reax as they come in throughout the day.

Jared Bernstein blames austerity: State and local governments continue to shed jobs.  They would be my first target for stimulus in a sane world.  Last month, local education jobs were down 11,000 and they’re down about 100,000 over the last year.  Next time your friendly politician is jawboning about a) the benefits of austerity and spending cuts, and b) the importance of education, please point out the hypocrisy.

First Read: “These jobs reports do have an impact on how people view the economy. We noted earlier in the week that Romney was having a tough week because of all the national security news that dominated. This will allow him to get back on message for a month.”

The Hamilton Project has a new interactive tool that lets you see how long it will take to close the “jobs gap” under different scenarios. Essentially, this is how long it would take to bring unemployment back down to pre-recession levels, assuming that’s even possible, while still absorbing new entrants into the labor force.

Ed Kilgore notes that the “disappointing” March jobs figure now comes in at above the “magic number” of 150k that Nate Silver has suggested would be necessary monthly to put the president in a strong position for re-election.

Ezra Klein thinks it’s very possible that April’s job numbers could be revised in next month’s report. One thing we’ve consistently seen with these jobs reports is that previous months are getting bumped upward. The Bureau of Labor Statistics originally said that the economy added just 120,000 jobs in March, but that got revised upward on Friday to 154,000. Still, even that big a revision for April wouldn’t change the overall trajectory very much. We’re still many years away from a thriving labor market.

David Leonhardt believes the coming months could “bring roughly 175,000 net new jobs per month, on average”: Just as sober economists understood that the burst of economic growth and hiring at the end of late 2011 and start of 2012 was probably fleeting, there is reason to think the weak growth of the last two months may not last, either. The true underlying trend may be somewhere between the good news of January and February (caused in part by warm weather, which pulled forward various spending) and the disappointing news of March and April (because some spending that would normally have happened then instead happened earlier).ered full employment.

RedState’s Daniel Horowitz reminds us that at this time in the Reagan recovery, the economy added a population-adjusted 480,000 jobs.

Felix Salmon thinks the big news is that a “a whopping 522,000 people left the labor force last month”:

As Mike Konczal noted this morning, a key indicator of labor recession is still in force: if you’re unemployed, you’re still more likely to drop out of the labor force entirely than you are to find a job. And as Dan Alpert noted, in a country of 314 million people, there are only 115 million full-time workers and 27 million part-time workers. It’s really hard to get a robust recovery when the number of people earning money is so anemic.

The Wall Street Journal notes job growth was below expectations once again, “a fresh sign that the economy could be settling into a sluggish spring.”

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