United States Labor Department released the unemployment figures for April yesterday, and for the sixth time in the last seven months it has fallen. The rate fell 0.1% in April (from 8.2% to 8.1%). This means the unemployment rate has dropped a full point since September 2011 (from 9.1% to 8.1%).
This is not good news for Republican hopes at the polls in November. They have been doing everything they could to keep the economy bad and unemployment high, in the hopes they could fool Americans into thinking it was President Obama's fault and use that to return to power. Toward that end, they have blocked any real job creation plans and slashed the social programs that would help Americans hurt by the Bush recession.
There were 115,000 non-farm jobs created in the U.S. economy during April. That is barely enough to account for the new workers entering the job market, and nowhere near the amount of jobs that needs to be created in a month to start to solve our unemployment crises. But in the face of Republican obstructionism, it is amazing that many jobs could be created and the rate dropped by 0.1%.
The truth is that the government should be spending much more to create jobs and put people back to work. The GOP claims this would just increase the deficit, but that is not necessarily so. The increased spending that is needed could easily be covered by cuts to the military budget (where we spend close to half of the world's total military spending) and by raising taxes on the richest Americans and corporations (who are making record profits and paying less taxes than at any time since World War II).
Here is a demographic breakdown of U.S. unemployment:
As usual under both Democratic and Republican administrations, not all of the unemployed were reported in the official unemployment rate. Those labeled as "marginally-attached" to the labor force, meaning they had not looked for work in the last four weeks, were not counted. There are at least 2.4 million unemployed Americans labeled as "marginally-attached". In addition, there are 7.9 million Americans who are working part-time because they cannot find (but would like to have) full-time work.
Even if the substantial job creation programs that are needed were to be put into place, it would take several years for the economy to right itself and unemployment to fall to a reasonable rate of 4% to 5%. But as long as the Republicans control the House of Representatives (and are able to block all efforts at job creation), that is not going to happen -- there will be no jobs recovery.