The news from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday was that the unemployment rate had fallen to 6.3% and 288,000 jobs were added.
Many people will believe this number; the skeptical among us don’t and believe that there is more to it than that.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the UK’s Telegraph doesn’t either. He has a more realistic take on it all.
Non-Farm Payrolls data released on Friday shows that the workforce shed 806,000 jobs in April, a stunning drop that cannot plausibly be blamed on the weather. Wage growth and hours worked were both flat and the manufacturing hours per week fell.
This follows news earlier in the week that the economy to a halt in the first quarter. Growth plummeted to 0.1pc and is now well below the Fed’s “stall speed” indicator. Analysts blamed this on the freezing polar vortex over the winter.
Yet the jobs data confirm a disturbingly weak picture. The headline unemployment rate fell to 6.3pc but that was only because the labour “participation rate” plummeted back to a modern-era low of 62.8pc, last seen in 1978 when there were far fewer women in the workforce. The rate for males is the lowest ever recorded at 69.1pc.
The jobs market is highly volatile – and is often revised later – but the data are a warning that the US recovery may be losing momentum. Lakshman Achuthan, from the Economic Cycle Research Institute, said the trend was already weakening long before the cold weather. “We see a failure to launch. We’re decelerating, not accelerating, and that is a big concern,” he said.
One reader commented that “There never was a recovery. We’ve been in the Obama Depression for 6 years, but they don’t call it that. Fifty million Americans can’t feed themselves without government assistance (cough), one-third are out of the workforce, and 57% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. But on the bright side, Washington, D.C. does have the highest per capita income in the country. Washington is awash in taxpayer money even though it doesn’t produce any actual wealth itself other than all the new dollars that roll off the printing presses.”
Amen. Add to that the middle class is shrinking and there are no growth policies coming from Obama. It doesn’t make for an optimistic future for America.