The nation had its second straight month of disappointing job growth in April, according to government figures released today.

The country’s employers added 115,000 jobs, on top of 154,000 added last month, the Labor Department announced. April’s growth is less than the 130,000 jobs that must be added monthly just to keep up with population growth.

The unemployment rate dropped a tad to 8.1 percent from 8.2 percent but that was because a lot of workers dropped out of the labor force altogether.

The percentage of  working-age Americans who are officially in the labor force, 63.3 percent, whether by working or actively searching for a job, is now lower than it has ever been since 1981.

Private companies added 130,000 jobs last month but government job losses numbering 15.000 pulled down the gains for the whole nation.

“Republicans in Congress have blocked President Obama’s efforts to keep propelling growth, ” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Whether it’s the American Jobs Act or routine highway infrastructure investments, even as Republicans push catastrophic budgets that threaten our economic security and break our promises to the next generation.

“Pursuing tried and failed economic policies is the definition of crazy – and exactly what Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, John Boehner and others would do,” Trumka said. “Their austerity agenda concentrates wealth in the hands of a few, starves our nation of the funds needed to invest in our future, further deepens the wealth divide and chokes off any hope of a strong recovery.”

What the figures don’t show, observers in the labor movement note, is that the economy is producing today more goods and services than it did when the recession officially began in Dec., 2007 but with more than five million fewer workers.

Employers, that means, are making more with fewer workers to whom they are paying out less in wages and benefits. Some in big business circles say that these successes by the 1% mean that higher unemployment could well be “acceptable” for the long term.  They are pushing the idea that an economy where 60 percent or less of the working age population actually works or even tries to get a job is the “new normal.”

In some areas of the economy last month there were increases in the number of jobs including health care (19,000 jobs), food and drinking services (20,000), and manufacturing (16,000). Job growth declined in several other industries including transportation and warehousing (-17,000 jobs) and ground passenger transportation (-11,000).

The official unemployment rate for African American workers decreased from 12.3 percenti n March to 10.8 percent in April.

This, however, was also due to huge numbers of African Americans dropping out of the workforce altogether. The official unemployment rate for Latino workers remained at 10.3 percent.

At 24.9 percent, the official teen unemployment rate moved only slightly from 25 percent the month before. The more relevant figure for youth, however, is that only one in four Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 has any type of job at all.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.