In a just released report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate increased from 8.8% to 9.0%.

The “unemployment rate” can be somewhat misleading, as I have pointed out in the past, because as more people drop out of the labor market (i.e. give up even looking for work) the rate can drop.  So did the rate increase because more people were looking for work?

According to the report, 244,000 non-farm payroll jobs were added.  But the report also notes that the “labor force also was little changed in April.”  So it does not appear that the increase was a result of more people looking for work.

I’ll dig into the report and update on the details.

Updates:  The “participation rate” was down 0.1% from March, so the increase does not appear to be caused by more people looking for work.  The number of people reentering the workforce or entering for the first time also was stable.

The unemployment rate for Black males is 17.3%, and for Black females 12.8% (compared to 7.8% for White men and 6.6% for White women).  Black teenagers (16-19) have a 37.5% unemployment rate (compared to 20.7% for White teenagers).  The unemployment rate for Hispanic men is 10.3%, women 11.0% and teenagers 23.4%.

In response to commenter Sandy, what some refer to as the “true” unemployment rate is much higher.  This table show statistics for “Alternative Measure of Labor Underutilization,” including a rate of 15.9% (seasonally adjusted, as is the 9.0% headline number) for “Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force.”

The New York Times, which is spinning this report as an indication that “the recovery continued to pick up steam,” makes this inaccurate assessment:

“April’s numbers exceeded the forecasts of analysts, who had expected a gain of 185,000 jobs over all, with the change in private payrolls of 200,000. The uptick in the unemployment rate that came even as employers were adding jobs was an indication that more people were entering the work force as hopes for hiring increased.”

Do NY Times reporters even read the reports about which they are writing?

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