US Economy Added 428,000 Jobs In April, CNN Doubts Good Times Will Ever Return
The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics is out with its monthly jobs report, showing the economy added 428,000 new jobs in April. The unemployment rate stays the same, at 3.6 percent, which is just a little bit higher than the unemployment rate before the big employment crash at the beginning of the pandemic. The number of new jobs was actually a bit better than the Dow Jones forecast of 400,000 new jobs, hooray!
In addition, as happens sometimes, the March numbers were revised downward just a hair, from 431,000 to 428,000, which isn't terrible. And while it probably won't shut up any Republicans, one measure of inflation eased a bit, too: Average wages increased, but were up by just 0.3 percent, better than the forecast of 0.4 percent. ("Better" if you care more about inflation than wage growth.)
CNBC presents the traditional economist summation, this month from Daniel Zhao, the senior economist at jobs review site Glassdoor:
The job market continues to plow forward, buoyed by strong employer demand. After just over two years of the pandemic, the job market is remaining resilient and on track for a return to pre-pandemic levels this summer. However, the job market is showing some signs of cooling as it turns the corner and the recovery enters a new phase.
Sometimes we wonder whether those monthly jobs report overviews aren't just produced by an algorithm: Load in the month's numbers and the machine spits out some econospeak. So it was a pretty good month, huh?
Last month's job gains were fairly consistent with the roughly half-million jobs the economy has added every month since Joe Biden took office, so naturally, CNN Business fretted that the bloom is off the recovery, because maybe everything is terrible!
After an electric economic recovery from the pandemic, the job market is showing signs of returning to normal. It’s still growing at a remarkably strong pace, but the months of millions of jobs added are probably over.
Oh no! That sounds like huge drop-off in growth! At least, it might sound like it was until you look back over the actual job stats from the beginning of the pandemic recession. The BLS recorded catastrophic job losses in March and April 2020, with 20 million jobs vaporized in April 2020 alone, before the economy started coming back.
But here's the thing: Those wondrous days of "millions of jobs" being added to the economy were limited to the summer of 2020, as most businesses that had temporarily shut down in response to the pandemic reopened. Here, have a chart from Forbes in September 2020; the numbers here show the initial monthly jobs numbers without taking later revisions into account:
The 1.4 million new jobs in August 2020 would be, in fact, the last time the economy added over a million jobs during the current recovery. Donald Trump took credit for the jobs gains — which were real, but had more to do with businesses starting to dig out from the crash than any economic genius on his part.
On the other hand, the Trump administration's catastrophically inept handling of the pandemic did mean that the early return of jobs didn't hold: The pandemic came roaring back in the fall wave of 2020. In fact, job growth slowed for the rest of that year: 919,000 new jobs in September, 647,000 in October, 333,000 in November, and an actual loss of 115,000 jobs in December 2020.
Since Joe Biden took office in 2021 and the vaccines began to help control the coronavirus, the economy has grown pretty steadily, as you can see in this nice chart from the New York Times today. See how we're almost back up to the pre-pandemic jobs level?
In a statement, President Biden noted that since he took office, the economy has added 8.3 million jobs; he also noted that back in January 2021,
there were around 20 million people relying on unemployment benefits to feed their families; today, that number is around 1 million – the lowest since 1970. We are building an economy that values the dignity of work.
In short, shut the fuck up about there no longer being any "millions of jobs" gained in any given month, CNN, because the only time that happened was right after the economy fell off a cliff — and that growth didn't continue because we had that second big COVID surge.
Also too, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by half a point Wednesday in an attempt to rein in inflation without slowing the economy enough to cause a recession, so here's hoping the former happens and the latter doesn't. Now we have to go and work on programming our EconoBot 3000 with a range of sober-sounding statements about the economy.
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.