Press Releases | Jobs and Unemployment

News from EPI Jobs data sends mixed messages

For Immediate Release: Friday, May 6, 2011
Contact: Phoebe Silag or Karen Conner, 202-775-8810


April was another strange month of mixed messages in the labor market.  The payroll survey came in surprisingly strong, with 244,000 jobs added.  Excluding temporary hiring for the 2010 census, this is the largest monthly gain in five years.   The household survey, however, went in the opposite direction, with the unemployment rate increasing from 8.8% to 9.0% — and the increase in unemployment was not due to formerly-sidelined workers deciding to look for work, as the labor force increased by only 15,000 in April (not nearly enough to keep up with working-age population growth).  The rule of thumb when the surveys go in opposite directions is to put more weight on the payroll survey, since it is much larger and less volatile month-to-month.  And while net jobs growth of 244,000 is relatively good news, this country has nearly 14 million unemployed, and millions more who have given up even trying to find work.  At April’s job growth rate, it would take until the fall of 2016 to get back to the prerecession unemployment rate. 

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