After the discouraging jobs report a month ago, many were eager to read the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning to see whether the jobs market would bounce back or continue to deteriorate.
For now, it looks like the former. The U.S. economy added 165,000 jobs in April, more than expected, and overall unemployment rate dropped to 7.5%, its lowest point in four-and-a-half years. As is usually the case, there was a gap between the two major sectors – America’s private sector added 176,000 jobs last month, while spending cuts caused the public sector lose 11,000 jobs.
Of course, these are preliminary totals that will be updated in the coming months, and therein lies the key importance to this new jobs report: the revisions. February, for example, was revised up from 268,000 jobs to 332,000, making it the single best month for job creation since 2005 (excluding temporary Census hiring). March was also revised up, from 88,000 to 138,000. In other words, as of this morning’s report, the previous two months added an additional 114,000 jobs we didn’t previously know about. (Update: Also note, the February job totals, the best in eight years, came after January’s tax hikes, but before the sequester.)
It’s painful to think about, but all of the available evidence tells us something important: were it not for Congress and sequestration cuts, the nation’s economic recovery would likely be quite strong right now. Were it not for the lawmakers Americans elect to represent our interests, and their ongoing efforts to take capital out the economy and slash public investments, job growth would probably be very robust.
Above you’ll find the chart I run on the first Friday of every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction – red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.
Update: Here’s another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.