The Post reports, “Businesses hired more people [in April] than analysts expected, pushing the jobless rate down to 7.5 percent from 7.6 percent in March. The Labor Department reported that the economy in April added 165,000 jobs across a broad swath of industries. Just as importantly, the agency significantly increased its estimates of job growth for the previous two months. The average monthly gain this year is now just shy of 200,000 — the minimum pace required to ensure the recovery can lift off.”
Liberals clutched the scrap of good news, relieved that they won’t — for now — have to deal with a double-dip recession. Conservatives were cautiously optimistic. Doug Holtz-Eakin commented, “Today’s job report was good but not great.” He pointed out:
Jobs are up and so are hourly earnings. But weekly earnings are down and so are hours. In short, there are more bodies, but less time spent working and lower total pay. Part-time work – feeding fears of the impact of the Affordable Care Act – pushed the U-6 measure [the underemployment rate] up. Combined with the lower hours this is a worrying development.
That U-6 number ticked up to 13.9 percent.
As a policy matter, this should debunk the Obama administration’s insistence that the sequester would harm the economy, and it should undermine their demand for more stimulus.
Jim Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Institute has a larger concern:
The U.S. lost 8.8 million private sector jobs during the Great Recession. Since the beginning of the jobs recovery, we have gained back 6.8 million, leaving a gap of about 2 million. As economist Michael Darda calculates, if average monthly job gains remain close to the 12-month average of 180,000 for the private sector, the level of private sector jobs will rise to an all-time high in just under one year.
But even then, private-sector jobs will still be way below the 1990-2007 trend. Currently the shortfall is nearly 12 million missing jobs. The “jobs gap” remains a frightening maw gobbling up the hopes and dreams of American workers.
For all of these reasons, Republicans might want to put aside the fruitless grand-bargain talks and work on a growth plan with domestic energy production as its centerpiece. Immigration reform, including more visas for high-skilled workers, would help as well. Liberals may claim things would be even better if Obama spent more, but the job figures suggest that what may be dragging the economy down is the Obamacare cloud. That, along with uber-regulations and tax hikes (via Obamacare and the fiscal-cliff deal), may make it that much harder to get back the lost jobs.