Corn! Corn for Mother Russia!

The April jobs report is out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and after last month's very strong jobs numbers, it turns out to be a bit of a disappointment for anyone who was anticipating the economy to come roaring right back. The economy only added 266,000 jobs in April, and March's numbers got revised downward, too, from a rosy initial report of 916,000 to 770,000. Overall unemployment remains at around 6 percent, although that may be artificially low, since there are still millions of people who aren't actively looking for work yet.

Oh no! Must mean that Joe Biden is mismanaging the economy and all those big generous checks have made Americans too lazy to work!

Like, if you're a Republican who likes their explanations simple and completely wrong.


The reality is that the pandemic is still with us, and while job availability is improving, the economy is still going to be wobbly for a while. That's not because anyone's sitting around playing video games and whooping it up on $300 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits, but because, as the Washington Post points out, the global economy was thrown for a loop by the pandemic, and is still getting back on its feet.

Many aspects of the recovery have been bumpy. Global supply chains still have not recovered. Many workers still have not returned to their offices, and the travel industry remains heavily affected. But for companies that are trying to ramp up, there are other pressures. A number of firms, including in the construction and restaurant industries, have complained to the White House about their inability to find enough workers for new positions.

Some economists, though, believe the claims of a labor shortage are overblown, and reflect other considerations workers are making amid the complicated dynamics of the pandemic. Many workers, for example, are juggling child care and health concerns at a time when many employers are trying to hire for positions that offer less than $15 an hour.

As Yr Wonkette discussed the other day, companies that are willing to put in a little effort aren't having too much difficulty finding workers. And while there are pockets of the economy that are having trouble ramping up quickly with low-paying jobs, there's no reason to believe the "government is paying people more to stay home than they'd make at work" bullshit now than in any other decade the GOP has rolled it out since the New Deal. As WaPo also notes, "There are anecdotal reports of companies struggling to hire, but some of the broader data is less conclusive."

A single month's job statistics in the very weird COVID economy don't necessarily mean much. There's a mix of positive trends and factors holding back growth, because did we mention, global pandemic?

New unemployment claims have fallen to new pandemic-era lows for the past four weeks, dropping below 500,000 for the first time last week. And the number of job postings has grown significantly.

The economy is still ironing out other unforeseen wrinkles as well as it recovers from the unprecedented public health crisis: A global chip shortage has shaken industries such as auto manufacturing as supply struggles to keep up with uncorked demand.

Not surprisingly, the WaPo comments section is full of talk-radio-educated economists who know the problem is simple: If we'd just ignored the pandemic, nobody would have lost jobs, and those who did would be happily working three minimum-wage jobs like God wanted them to.

Also worth mentioning is this Politico story pointing out a far more salient data point about the effect of the COVID relief payments: Hunger is on the decline in the US America and such as:

Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week shows the percentage of adults living in households that sometimes or often did not have enough to eat dipped to just over 8 percent late last month, down from nearly 11 percent in March. That is a substantial drop, and it came after hundreds of billions in stimulus checks went out. [...]

The rate of American adults in households struggling with food is now down more than 40 percent since its peak in December — a fact that Democrats are beginning to tout as proof that hundreds of billions of dollars in direct stimulus is working as intended as they push for another massive package despite growing GOP opposition to more spending.

It seems that when you give people money during an economic crisis, they use it to feed their families instead of blowing it on "booze or women or movies," as great GOP thinker Sen. Chuck Grassley memorably fretted. Still, it's undoubtedly tragic news, because if only people actually were starving, maybe they'd have more incentive to take low-paying jobs!

Politico also notes that the Census Bureau's study of hunger during the pandemic "marks the first time the federal government has closely tracked in real time how households are faring during an economic crisis," which certainly sounds like an excellent reason to cut the Census Bureau's funding, since the data makes it a lot harder for Republicans to pretend that helping people through tough economic times causes indolence.

As we like to say, go read the whole thing, and make sure you bookmark it for the next time some dip tries to tell you the relief bills were an economy-killing waste of taxpayer money.

UPDATE: Also too, this dismaying information from WaPo economic reporter Heather Long:

As we say, a single month's data in this crazy economy isn't necessarily a trend, but if those numbers do continue, that's something to worry about. And no , the answer is never to just leave it to the wisdom of the marketplace.

[Bureau of Labor Statistics / WaPo / Politico]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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