The New York Times' Neil Irwin gives a balanced view of the new jobs numbers:
Rarely does a monthly report on the United States job market look so terrific on the surface while being so disappointing underneath.
Employers added a whopping 288,000 jobs, the most in two years.
The number of people in the labor force fell by a whopping 806,000, wiping out the February and March gains and a bit of January as well. The labor force participation rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to 62.8 percent, returning to its December level.
And the number of people reporting they were unemployed fell by 733,000, which sounds good on its surface, but paired with the similar-sized decline in the labor force points to job seekers giving up looking rather than finding new employment.
In other words, 288,000 jobs were created, but 806,000 fell out of the labor force and gave up looking for work altogether. So 2.8 times as many people dropped out as found jobs.
As CBS notes:
The unemployment rate dropped to 6.3 percent in April from 6.7 percent in March, the lowest it has been since September 2008 when it was 6.1 percent. The sharp drop, though, occurred because the number of people working or seeking work fell. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not count people not looking for a job as unemployed.
The amount (not seasonally adjusted) of Americans not in the labor force in April rose to 92,594,000, almost 1 million more than the previous month.
Despite what you may have heard, the huge numbers of people dropping out of the labor force can't be attributed to retiring baby boomers.
In reality, throwing money at the big banks has led to a “jobless recovery” – a permanent destruction of jobs – which is a redistribution of wealth from the little guy to the big boys. (And see this.)
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