What to Make of the April Job Numbers?


Line of job seekers

In April, the government reported another positive increase in new jobs of 244,000, but also a rise in the unemployment rate, to 9 percent from 8.8 percent. Which are we to believe?

The answer: neither. According to New York Times economy reporter David Leonhardt, in a refreshingly honest appearance on the PBS NewsHour, “There is no story that makes both of these things true for last month.” He added, “They are not reconcilable.”

When researchers dig a little deeper into the unemployment numbers, one thing becomes clear: The unemployment picture for older workers is just as bleak as ever.

As AARP reports, “Average duration of unemployment for older jobseekers exceeded one year in April, rising to 53.6 weeks from 51.5 weeks in March. More than half—56.3 percent—of all older jobseekers had been out of work for 27 or more weeks, up from March’s 54.7 percent.” AARP also posted the full report, from AARP Public Policy Institute.

It would also be good to keep the following question in mind, one not many reporters bother to ask very often: What kind of new jobs are being created?

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