Nothing to get excited about. Many Americans are just taking time off from work “to consider their options.” Many have vast IRAs and savings cushions and are just waiting out the current anemic jobs situation till the really plum opportunities start to open up. I myself am waiting for that important call from “a major banking concern” asking me to step into a “senior management position.” (At which point I will shut down Numéro Cinq.)
The federal government’s latest snapshot of the unemployment rate offered few bright spots Friday. The economy added 165,000 jobs in April—slightly better than March’s revised number of 138,000 jobs. Unemployment went down one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.5 percent; and health care, retail trade, and the food-services industry added positions.
The glaring caveat to this jobs report is the huge number of Americans who remain out of the workforce. Called the “labor force participation rate” in wonkspeak, that number held steady in April at 63.3 percent—the lowest level since 1979.