Private-sector job growth slowed in April, according to this month's report from payroll processor ADP, which showed private payrolls adding 156,000 jobs last month. Prior to this morning's report, economists polled by Reuters were predicting gains ranging from 116,000 to 225,000, with an average prediction of 196,000. The report shows the weakest job gains in three years.
There were no big surprises in this month's Employment Situation Summary from the Labor Department: the economy added 215,000 jobs, just exceeding economists' predictions, and the unemployment rate rose slightly, from 4.9 percent for February to 5 percent for March. Perhaps the biggest news, however, was wage growth. Average hourly earnings increased 7 cents to $25.43, after a 2-cent decline the previous month. But some experts feel that we're still not seeing the kind of wage growth expected from a market that's supposedly approaching full employment.
During last night's seventh Republican debate, Sen. Ted Cruz said: "... we have seen now in six years of Obamacare that it has been a disaster. It is the biggest job-killer in this country. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, have been forced into part-time work, have lost their health insurance, have lost their doctors, have seen their premiums skyrocket." If elected, he said, he would "repeal every word of Obamacare" – which would be a worthy goal, if Obamacare were really the job-killer Cruz claims it is. But is it?
As we get closer to the election, the primary races start to feel more like a boxing match. The Democrats are less likely to throw blows at one another than the candidates in the wider Republican field, but they do fall into the kind of media caricatures that feel more appropriate for professional athletes. You can even imagine what would be painted on their boxing robes: Bernie Sanders, the Heart; Hillary Clinton, the Head; Martin O'Malley, the Dark Horse. Last night's CNN Iowa Democratic Presidential Town Hall allowed the candidates to speak slightly more in depth, and try to get beyond the sound bites by answering voters' questions directly.
Watching the latest Democratic debate less than a week after the Republican debate, you're immediately struck by the differences between the two parties' events at this stage of the election cycle. It's not just the unsurprising fact that conservatives and liberals disagree on the major issues; it's that the Democrats, who have only three candidates vying for the nomination, have enough time to get into (slightly) more in-depth discussions about their proposals. Barring that, they've at least got more room, both metaphorically and physically on the stage, to argue with one another.
Last night's Republican debate in South Carolina started off with a question about jobs, and the economy and the job market dominated the discussion at many points during the night. Pretty much the only point all the candidates admit to agreeing on is that they disagree with President Obama's assertion, made in the State of the Union address earlier in the week, that the "United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world."
If you love cheese and you love politics, today is your day on Twitter. OK, fine, the cheese part is just a fun historical reference, wrapped up in a hashtag; Big Block of Cheese Day, first coined on the show The West Wing, dates back to an open house held by President Andrew Jackson in 1837. The reception was Jackson's last in office, and featured a 1,400-pound wheel of cheese and 10,000 guests from the general public. Today, of course, we don't need fromage and an open door to speak to our government directly – we just need Twitter. For the third year in a row, advisors like Vice President Biden and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez took to Twitter to answer the public's questions.
"Anyone claiming that America's economy is in decline is peddling fiction," President Obama said in his last State of the Union Address on Tuesday night. "Now, what is true – and the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxious – is that the economy has been changing in profound ways, changes that started long before the Great Recession hit, changes that have not let up." If you've struggled to find momentum in your career in the last eight or nine years, or even just to stay employed, that won't come as a shock. The question is, what can be done to help American workers weather the change and adapt?
After Wednesday's National Employment Report from ADP exceeded expectations by more than 60,000 jobs, it would have been disappointing if this morning's report from the Labor Department showed numbers that were merely in line with economists' predictions. Never fear: while economists polled by Reuters were looking for the addition of 195,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls, the Employment Situation Summary reflected a blockbuster 292,000 added jobs. In addition, the previous two month's numbers were revised upward by a combined 50,000 jobs.
Who would have thought that the last month of the year would show the most jobs added to private payrolls? Certainly, this morning's National Employment Report from payroll processor ADP took economists by surprise: those polled by Reuters were predicting the addition of 192,000 jobs, far below the actual number of 257,000 jobs.
In November, the unemployment rate officially hit 5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate many economists use to mark "full employment." But as Nelson D. Schwartz wrote at The New York Times, "The slack that built up in the labor market after the recession ... has changed traditional calculations of how far unemployment can fall before the job market tightens and the risk of inflation rises." In other words, on economic or personal level, that 5 percent unemployment marker might not mean what it used to mean.