Today’s employment report showed payrolls increased by 290,000 in April. Moreover, March’s preliminary figure was revised upward and now shows a gain of 230K (vs. 162K originally). Hiring of temporary Census workers might have skewed the topline number upward, but growth was solid across an array of industries, with even the beleaguered construction sector adding jobs for the second consecutive month—marking the sector’s first back-to-back gains since early 2007. In addition, the manufacturing sector has boosted payrolls by more than 100,000 since the beginning of the year, which is a sign factories are re-hiring workers to meet increased final demand.
Despite the positives listed above that can be found in the report, not to mention an increase in average weekly hours, some underlying details show lingering problems. In particular, the pervasiveness of long-term jobless spells does not appear to be improving. The median duration for unemployment climbed to 21.6 weeks in April, while 46 percent of unemployed (or 4.3% of the labor force) has been out of a job for at least 27 weeks. As mentioned here, such a long duration of joblessness can have appreciable consequences for the economy as a whole.