Job growth disappointed once again as April numbers reported fewer jobs had been created than had been hoped. The number of jobs added was lower than the March report. The Department of Labor (DoL) reported that 154,000 jobs were added in March compared to 115,000 in April.
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The 115,000 net number is the result of 15,000 fewer government jobs compared to the creation of 130,000 jobs in the private sector. Private sector jobs offer some hope since those are the jobs primarily responsible for increased income and, subsequently, more discretionary income to fuel consumer spending.
Experts said possible explanations for the two-month slowdown could be the mild winter, causing employers to add jobs earlier than usual, or by the increase in gasoline prices. Fuel prices have declined in recent weeks. Sentiment among the American population is less than optimistic. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.1% but that was based on fewer applicants instead of adding more jobs.
The number of people looking for jobs has hit a low matching that of 1981. Young people have had particular difficulty finding jobs and this has resulted in many going back home to live with their parents. Having to support adult children is putting a strain on these households, taking what otherwise might be discretionary income and adding to necessary expenses.
News from employers does not give much near term hope since the average hours worked per week remained at 34.5. An increase in hours worked would indicate that employers were getting ready to do more hiring. Since certain components of economic indicators continue to improve—such as private sector job growth—the hope for recovery remains. As the job market improves over the course of the recovery and gas prices continue to go down, some of these pressures may be alleviated.