The unemployment rate fell to a four-year low of 7.5 percent, as employers added 165,000 jobs in April. The decline, from 7.9 percent in January, was fueled mainly by a drop in unemployment among women. For African-American jobseekers, however, little changed. The black unemployment rate remained at 13.2 percent.
The Labor Department report showed some positive signs for an economy that has struggled amid slow growth, and Washington gridlock.
Friday’s release included adjusted job growth numbers for February and March to 332,000 and 138,000 jobs respectively — an improvement of 114,000 jobs over the previous data releases.
The U.S. economy has created 208,000 jobs a month on average since last November. Between June and November of 2012, the economy created 138,000 jobs per month.
The improved jobs picture was uneven, depending on the demographic. The April unemployment rate for women was 6.7 percent, while it was 7.1 percent for men. Tenn unemployment remained high, at 24.1 percent. And black and Hispanic unemployment topped the scale at 13.2 percent and 9.0 percent respectively.
The condition of the economy is further evidenced by the fact that more people are finding part-time, rather than full-time work. In April, the number of involuntary part-time workers increased by 278,000 to 7.9 million people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the bureau estimated there were 835,000 discouraged workers.
Responding to the jobs numbers, Congressional Black Caucus chair, Rep. Marcia Fudge, said in a statement that the report shows that “our economy continues on a fragile path to recovery. The national unemployment rate dropped from 7.6 percent to 7.5 percent and the African America unemployment rate dropped from 13.3 to 13.2 percent. With private sector job growth, the public sector losing fewer jobs this month, and with more people reporting they are reentering the labor force, there are signs our economy continues to turn around. However, 2.4 million African Americans and 11.7 Americans are still unemployed.”
The Black Caucus has touted an alternative budget that would replace the sequester, which forced across the board spending cuts, including to crucial anti-poverty programs and long term unemployment insurance. However with just 42 members in the House, the budget has little chance of coming to the floor.
Still, Fudge criticized the Republican majority for standing in the way of more robust job creation.
“Congress can either work to help or hinder our economic progress,” her statement read. “Sequestration remains a serious threat, and without a budget plan to address our nation’s fiscal problems, uncertainty prevents employers from making decisions that will help put Americans back to work.”
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