Snapshot – Labor Market Update: The April Employment Report

Welcome to the Cooley-Rupert Economic Snapshot, our view of the current economic environment. This is the latest version of our snapshot of the U.S. Economy based on the new employment numbers released on Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The complete Snapshot based on the preliminary estimates of first quarter GDP from the Bureau of Economic Analysis can be found in our previous post.

As in all of our snapshots we present the data in a way that we find particularly useful for assessing where we are in the business cycle and tracking the U.S. economic recovery. The paths of all the series presented are plotted relative to their value at the peak of the respective business cycles. We use the business cycle dates identified by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

You can also find the most recent version of the entire snapshot in pdf form here. As always we welcome any suggestions for additional data that you would like to see and suggestions for how to improve the presentation of the data.

A Disappointing and Sluggish Labor Market

The latest Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows non-farm payroll employment rose by a only 115,000 jobs in April. This was very disappointing compared to 154,000 jobs added in March (a slight upward revision) and an average of over 250,000 jobs per month for the prior three months. This will provide little updraft to the stagnant labor market. The number unemployed ticked down slightly to 12.5 million but the unemployment rate remained essentially unchanged at 8.1% because the labor force participation rate trended down further to 63.6%. In twelve months roughly 2.7 million people have left the labor force. Many economists have been hoping the labor market would add about 210,000 jobs consistent with the trend earlier this year.  For comparison, as we did last month, we plot employment as reported by ADP, an association of payroll processors. Many observers view this as a useful early indicator of the BLS numbers.
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