The Post-Jobs Presidency

Obama won’t rest until every American has given up looking for work

• May 4, 2012 10:48 am


United States labor participation rate fell to 63.6 percent in April, the lowest recorded level since December 1981, according to the the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The April report fell short of analyst expectations – 115,000 jobs added compared to consensus expectations of about 160,000 – and is the smallest reported gain in six months.

"That is well below the consensus estimate," CNBC’s Brian Sullivan said. "All in all, a lousy number. This is not good politically."

As Washington Post political analyst and social science expert Ezra Klein noted on Twitter, 115,000 new jobs is barely enough to keep pace with U.S. population growth.

The official unemployment rate declined slightly to 8.1 percent, though that was largely a result of more than 500,000 people leaving the labor force by giving up on looking for work. The number of long-term unemployed (at least 27 weeks without a job) remained steady at 5.1 million.

Finance blogger Jim Pethokoukis wrote that if labor force participation was the same as when President Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be about 11 percent.

The real unemployment rate, which includes individuals working part-time for economic reasons, is currently 14.5 percent.

The report marks 38 consecutive months with unemployment above 8 percent, which Bloomberg notes is the "longest such stretch since monthly records began in 1948."

"I'm not seeing a ton of sunshine here," said Jared Bernstein, a former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, offered an appropriately lukewarm response to the jobs report.

"Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but much more remains to be done to repair the damage caused by the financial crisis and the deep recession," he said in a statement. "It is critical that we continue the economic policies that are helping us dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began at the end of 2007."

Published under: Obama Economy, Unemployment