The News from the Employment Report

BLS released its Employment Situation Summary for April this morning:

Nonfarm payroll employment was little changed in April (-20,000), following job losses that totaled 240,000 in the first 3 months of the year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. The unemployment rate, at 5.0 percent, also was little changed in April. Employment continued to decline in construction, manufacturing, and retail trade, while jobs were added in health care and in professional and technical services.

Actually, the unemployment rate fell from 5.1% as the employment to population ratio rose from 62.6% to 62.7%. The household survey is reporting 362 thousand news jobs even though the payroll survey reports job losses.

CNNMoney had an odd way of spinning the payroll survey number:

Jobs: ‘Not as bad as we thought’ … Employers trim payroll for fourth straight month, although decline is less than forecasts … There was a net loss of 20,000 jobs in the month, according to the Labor Department report, compared to the revised loss of 81,000 jobs in the March reading. Economists surveyed by had forecast a loss of 75,000 jobs in April. The unemployment rate slipped to 5% from the 5.1% reading in March. Economists had been forecasting unemployment would rise to 5.2% in the latest report. “It’s not good news, but it’s not as bad as we thought it would be,” said David Wyss, chief economist for Standard & Poor’s.

Update: I peaked over at the NRO’s The Corner to see if Lawrence Kudlow has once again flipped flopped and declared the household survey to be a more accurate reflection of the jobs market, but not yet. I did see Ramesh Ponnuru proving once again that no one at the National Review knows how to read what the BLS wrote:

The Jobs Numbers and the Unemployment Rate – It is not unheard of for the two numbers to move in different directions. If, for example, the number of jobs falls while the number of people looking for work also falls, the unemployment rate can drop.

There have been months when the employment to population ratio fell but the labor force participation rate fell by even more, which leads to a lower reported unemployment rate. But had Ramesh bothered to review the data, he would have seen an unchanged labor force participation rate and a higher employment to population ratio. Can these clowns be more stupid?