By CATHERINE RAMPELL
Published: May 4, 2012
The nation’s employers are creating jobs at less than half the pace they were when this year began, according to a government report released Friday.
The addition of just 115,000 jobs in April was disappointing, but economists urged no panic just yet. Maybe the unusually warm winter had encouraged companies to do their spring hiring a little early, they offered in one of several theories. Maybe high gas prices, now falling, temporarily discouraged job growth. Better yet, maybe this latest report understates how many jobs were added, since the initial estimates for earlier months have been revised upward.
But no matter which hopeful explanation you choose, America’s 13.7 million jobless workers still look pretty discouraged.
Many economists had been predicting that strong job growth early this year would persuade many people sitting on the sidelines to re-enter the job market.
Instead, for reasons that are unclear, workers continue to peel off the labor force. An estimated 342,000 Americans dropped out of the job market altogether in April. That is why the unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.2 percent — not because more workers found jobs, but because so many people left the work force.
It’s just one month of data, and the survey numbers are not precise. Still, the figures fit into a longer-term trend.