Jobless rate at 4.4 percent in April

WASHINGTON—The U.S. unemployment rate declined 0.1 percent in April to 4.4 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The number of jobless declined by 146,000, to 7.056 million. Businesses claimed to create 194,000 new jobs last month, while governments added 17,000 more, a separate survey said.

But the overall number is not the whole story, Economic Policy Institute analyst Elise Gould said. She noted persistent high joblessness among African-Americans (7.9 percent) and Spanish-speakers (5.2 percent).

And BLS reported two high-paying sectors grew little in April: Construction firms added 5,000 workers – after adding only 1,000 in March – and factories added 6,000.

That left joblessness in construction at 6.3 percent, which was higher than last April’s 6 percent, and joblessness in factories at 3.9 percent.

“An unemployment rate of 4.4 percent no longer conveys the same information about the tightness of the labor market as it did in the previous business cycles,” Gould elaborated.

“The last business cycle, like the current one, never saw demand growth strong enough to get us to genuine full employment, but the extent of that weakness was mostly hidden if you just looked at headline unemployment.

“Yes, we’ve seen great improvements since the depths of the Great Recession and immediate aftermath, but we are not nearing the end of economic improvements possible. We still have a chance of reaching genuine full employment in the current recovery, as long as the Federal Reserve Board keeps its foot off the (economic) brakes” and doesn’t raise interest rates, Gould added.

Source: PAI