AUG: +151,000 jobs. Unemployment rate steady at 4.9%. AUG details here!.. Jobs since Obama took office?... Unemp. rate under Obama?

Friday, May 8, 2015

April 2015 Unemployment Rate, Jobs

May 2015 numbers to be released Friday, June 5.
Details HERE.
April 2015 numbers were released Friday, May 8.  Details HERE.  
April: +223,000 jobs, Unemp. Rate down slightly to 5.4%.

The pundits redeemed themselves this month.

The "pundits" expected 224,000 new jobs in April.. and they came very close with the BLS reporting 
223,000 new jobs with 213,000 of those jobs in the private sector.  The March numbers, however, were lower than initially reported, as the 126,000 new jobs mentioned last month were reduced to only 85,000 new jobs.  Unemployment dipped to 5.4% (from 5.5%). 

The "pundits" are also saying that the rebounding jobs numbers show that employers are confident enough, even after a bit of stagnation earlier in the year, to keep hiring.

My take: 

I felt that March's poor showing, in view of rock bottom initial unemployment claims and high numbers of job openings in early 2015, might have been attributable to employers actually
 having a harder time filling positions in February and into March:  It was colder and people may have stayed out of the winter job market a bit longer than usual. Remember that job numbers are reported as of the second week of the month, and it takes several weeks to get new hires on board.

It's possible that I was actually right about this, as unemployment claims continue to be very low and we did see an uptick in labor participation this month.  As usual, one month up or down does NOT make a trend, and we will all have to wait and see.

Let's remember that we are STILL not where we want to be in terms of jobs.  We still have about 1.7 active jobseekers for every job opening out there compared to 1.1 active jobseekers per job opening in December 2000.  This is one of the reasons that so many people still feel they are hurting in this economy.  The labor market just did not do that well in the early 2000's and we're still trying to make up for that.     

April 2015 Highlights (Specific reports listed below):
  • +223,000 total new payroll jobs; +213,000 new private sector jobs.  These increases are very close to projections of +224,000 jobs in April.
  • The BLS decreased its March estimates from +126,000 jobs down to +85,000 jobs.
  • The unemployment rate ticked down to 5.4% as the number of unemployed declined slightly.
  • Alternate unemployment rate fell from 10.9% down to 10.8%.  
  • Labor force participation rate edged up by .1% as the number of people in the labor force increased by 166,000. The self-reported number of people employed (which includes farm workers and the self-employed) increased by 192,000 in April.
  • Number of people working full-time decreased by about 252,000 while number of people working part-time increased by about 437,000.  Despite this month's decrease in full-time workers, there are still 2,314,000 MORE people working full-time over the past year, since April 2014, and 487,000 MORE people working part-time over the past year. 
  • The number of involuntary part-time workers (people working part-time because they couldn't find full-time work) decreased by 125,000 in April.  This number has declined 880,000 over the past year, since April 2014.  This also means that this month's increase in part-time workers was due to VOLUNTARY part-time workers; that is, people who PREFERRED to work part-time.
  • The number of long-term unemployed (people looking for work over half a year) dropped by 125,000 in April, and has dropped 880,000 over the past year, since April 2014.

Since the "trough" of the recession in late 2009/early 2010 in seasonally adjusted numbers:
  • 11.7 million MORE jobs in total
  • 12.3 million MORE private sector jobs
  • 10.5 million MORE people working
  • 10.2 million MORE people working full-time.
  • 259,000 MORE people working part-time.  
  • (Yes, despite what you may have heard, from the depth of the recession until now, we have many more additional people working full-time vs. part-time jobs. When a recession hits, companies generally cut back on full-time workers first.  When companies start hiring again, the number of full-time workers increases.)
Since Bush left office & Obama took office (January 2009) in seasonally adjusted numbers:
  • 7.4 million MORE jobs in total
  • 8.1 million MORE private sector jobs
  • 6.4 million MORE people working
  • 5.0 million MORE people working full-time
  • 1.4 million MORE people working part-time
April 2015 reports: (Notation on the links will be changed to "UPDATED for APRIL" when the updated reports become available.) 

The good, the bad, the ugly-- This was my preview of Friday's jobs numbers written Thursday before the numbers were released:

"The pundits" expect about 
224,000 more jobs when the BLS counts are released tomorrow (Friday) morning at 8:30 a.m., with the unemployment rate falling by a tenth of a percent to 5.4%.  If there are many more jobs but the unemployment rate stays the same or goes up a tenth, this would be a good indication that more people have entered the labor force in April.  The outlook for jobs continues to be bullish, but the two consumer confidence calculators come up with completely different outlooks.  Other than that, unemployment claims, both new claims and continuing claims, are VERY VERY low, lower than they have been for 15 years.     
  • The ADP private payroller report came out yesterday which estimated an additional 169,000 private sector jobs in April.  Estimates for March were decreased from 189,000 to 175,000.  According to ADP's estimates, this was the second month in a row that the US has added fewer than 200,000 private sector jobs.  (ADP has tended to underestimate private job growth when the report is released, and initial estimates have been revised upwards 9 out of the past 12 months.)

    Comments from ADP:

    "April job gains came in under 200,000 for the second straight month,” said Carlos Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP. “Companies with 500 or more employees had the slowest growth.” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said, “Fallout from the collapse of oil prices and the surging value of the dollar are weighing on job creation. Employment in the energy sector and manufacturing is declining. However, this should prove temporary and job growth will reaccelerate this summer."
  • "A Reuters survey of economists forecast nonfarm payrolls increased 224,000 in April after gaining 126,000 in March, when hiring was held back by bad weather.
    Expectations for a relatively strong employment report were also bolstered by a separate report showing small businesses increased hiring last month."
  • Bloomberg writes:  "Focus is on tomorrow’s monthly payrolls data, in which economists predict nonfarm payrolls rose 245,000 in March, down from February’s 295,000 with no change to the 5.5 percent unemployment rate, the lowest since 2008. Wage growth is also forecast to be little changed."
  • The Consumer Confidence Index of the Conference Board  "retreated" in April:
    " The Index now stands at 95.2 (1985=100), down from 101.4 in March. Both the "Expectations Index" and the "Present Situation Index"  decreased in April.
    “This month’s retreat was prompted by a softening in current conditions, likely sparked by the recent lackluster performance of the labor market, and apprehension about the short-term outlook. The Present Situation Index declined for the third consecutive month. Coupled with waning expectations, there is little to suggest that economic momentum will pick up in the months ahead.”
  • However, the Consumer Sentiment index for April compiled by the University of Michigan  showed just the opposite; it jumped to 95.9 from the March reading of 93.  The Michigan people say: "Consumer Sentiment in April was at its second highest level since 2007, and recorded a higher average level during the last five months than anytime since May 2004. Consumer optimism has become increasingly dependent on the persistence of low inflation and low interest rates as well as slowly improving prospects for jobs and incomes. While nearly two-thirds of all consumers anticipate rising interest rates during the year ahead, they anticipate very minimal increases. Indeed, consumers must judge the negative impact of higher interest rates to be easily offset by the positive impact of expanding jobs and incomes." People are increasingly comfortable with the direction in which the economy is headed.
    So take your pick; people are either concerned or they think things are going well.  Whatever.
  • Job search engine was somewhat higher than the other estimates.  Linkup projected a net gain of 275,000 jobs in April.  (They base their projections largely on job openings.)  They also said:
    For the 3rd month in a row beginning in January, new and total job listings on LinkUp’s job search engine rose more than 10% in March, indicating that labor demand continues to strengthen and Friday’s jobs report for April should come in above consensus estimates. - And finally, job duration ticked up a bit to 48 days in April, most likely due to rising labor demand and the challenge employers are beginning to feel in filling openings."
  • Finally, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits is very, very low. Reuters summarizes: 
    "The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits held near a 15-year low last week in a sign that the labour market was strengthening despite moderate economic growth.
    Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 265,000 for the week ended May 2, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was well below the increase to 280,000 that economists had forecast.
    Claims for the prior week were unrevised at 262,000, which was the lowest reading since April 2000. The sustained strength suggests March's sharp step down in job growth was likely an aberration, and could keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates this year."

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