Job Market Under Obama: It Depends How You Spin it
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. employers pulled back on hiring in April for the second straight month, evidence of an economy still growing only sluggishly. The unemployment rate dipped, but only because more people gave up looking for work.
The Labor Department said Friday that the economy added just 115,000 jobs in April. That’s below March’s upwardly revised 154,000 jobs and far fewer than the pace earlier this year.
The unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent last month from 8.2 percent in March. It’s fallen a full percentage point since August to a three-year low. But last month’s rate decline wasn’t due to job growth. The government counts people as unemployed only if they’re actively looking for work.
In April, the percentage of adults working or looking for work fell to the lowest level in more than 30 years. Many have become discouraged about their prospects.
Here’s what The Associated Press’ reporters are finding:
THE POLITICAL DEBATE
A falling unemployment rate would seem to be good news for President Barack Obama’s re-election hopes. Dating to 1956, no incumbent president has lost when unemployment fell in the two years leading to an election. On Election Day, unemployment will almost certainly be lower than it was two years earlier: 9.8 percent in November 2010.
But for the past two months, the rate has fallen for the wrong reason: More than 500,000 Americans have stopped looking for jobs and are longer be counted as unemployed. Job growth averaged a healthy 252,000 from December through February. It slowed to 135,000 a month in March and April.
The question is whether voters will focus more on the falling unemployment rate (good for Obama) or on the modest job growth (not so good).