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The April jobs report, in 8 charts

The April jobs report was encouraging, all told. In addition to gaining 165,000 jobs last month, we gained 114,000 total jobs in revisions in February and March. And unemployment is at its lowest point since December 2008. Like we always do at this time, let’s break it down, chart-style.

Unemployment and jobs gained

On its own 165,000 jobs gained isn't too tremendous. But revisions pushed the February number from 268,000 to 332,000, and the March number from 88,000 to 138,000. The latter is an incredible 57 percent upward revision, and the former means February was the strongest month for job growth since May 2010, as this chart from our graphics team shows:

Here's that with unemployment added in:


But for the second month in a row (perhaps not coincidentally the two months after the sequester hit), we lost government jobs, with 11,000 public jobs lost in April:

This is a marked change from past recoveries, as this chart from Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney at the Hamilton Project shows:

Labor force participation

Labor force participation stayed at its disturbingly low level of 63.3 percent, which as you can see is way below where it was pre-recession:

Be sure to read Jim Tankersley and Ben Casselman, as well as their replies to each other, on how big a deal this is.

Alternative unemployment

As we explain every month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases six unemployment measures. There’s U3, the number that shows up in all the news articles, which counts people who don’t have jobs but have looked for one in the past four weeks. But there are also U1, U2, U4, U5 and U6. U1 and U2 numbers are usually lower than U3, and they measure the percentage of people who have been unemployed for 15 weeks or longer and the percentage who have lost jobs or done temporary work during the month being measured, respectively.

The figures for U4, U5 and U6 are higher than for U3. Each of these categories includes everyone in all the lower categories: All people in U3 are in U4; all people in U4 are in U5; and all people in U5 are in U6. U4 adds people who have stopped looking for work because they’ve concluded that none is available. U5 adds people who would like to work but for whatever reason have not looked for work recently. U6 adds the underemployed, or part-time workers who want to be working full-time but cannot for whatever reason.

As administration critics were quick to point out, not all measures of unemployment fell in April. U-6 ticked up to 13.9 percent from 13.8 percent in March, though both are down considerably from 15 percent, which is where it was just last July. U-3 and U-4 fell and the others stayed the same:

Sectoral changes

Job sectors were affected to varying degrees by the downturn. Construction took the heaviest hit, while health and education were barely hurt at all.

It was another good month for services in the leisure and hospitality, education and health, professional, and financial sectors, but not as great for mining and logging, the all-star of the recovery so far:


Wage growth ticked up slightly to 1.9 percent year-over-year in April, from 1.8 percent in June, but that's still below the 2 percent inflation target set by the Fed and far below the 2.5 percent upper bound it's said it will have to reach to stop quantitative easing, so real wages aren't increasing much if at all: