Jobs

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The economy added 165,000 jobs in April. That exceeded the expectations of economists. It also drove down the unemployment rate to a four-year low, 7.5 percent. Unfortunately, the biggest gains were in lower-paying fields like hospitality and temp agencies. And as the school year comes to a close and young people start looking, the question is will there be enough work for them. NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

The nation's unemployment rate hit a four-year low of 7.5 percent and the job market improved last month. Friday's news helped push the Dow Jones industrial average above 15,000 for the first time.

Was that a rational response?

Although the jobs report for April was positive, what triggered the market reaction was the fact that it was better than expected. Instead of 145,000 jobs created, as most economists predicted, the Labor Department says there were 165,000 new jobs.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news begins with some good economic news.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 15,000 for the first time ever this morning. The S&P 500 also hit a record high. All of this came just after the release of a positive jobs report. The Labor Department says 165,000 jobs were created in April. Economist have been expecting about 150,000 new jobs last month.

(Most recent update: 10 a.m. ET.)

The nation's jobless rate edged down to 7.5 percent in April from 7.6 percent in March and employers added 165,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning.

Earlier this year, the percentage of Americans who are working or looking for work fell to its lowest level since 1979.

The figure (wonks call it labor force participation rate) rose for decades, as more women entered the workforce. It started falling over a decade ago. And the decline is now being driven by a bunch of different factors — some of which are scary and recessiony, and some of which are not.

There were 324,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, down 18,000 from the previous week's 342,000, the Employment and Training Administration reports.

Claims continue to run around the lowest pace since early 2008 — they haven't been lower since a week in mid-January 2008 when they came in at 321,000.

A relatively weak 119,000 jobs were added to private employers' payrolls last month as federal spending cuts and tax increases began to bite, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report.

Dying on the job continues at a steady pace according to the latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The fatal injury rate for American workers dropped slightly in 2011 — the most recent year with reported numbers — from 3.6 to 3.5 deaths per 100,000 workers.

But 4,693 men, women and teenagers died at work. That's three more than the total number of lives lost on the job in 2010.

There were 339,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, down 16,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says.

The drop brought claims down to around their lowest level since early 2008, when the latest recession was just getting started and before the downturn got its grip on the economy.

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