In his weekend radio broadcast, Bush spoke of “powerful confirmation” that his prized economic recovery is turning out to be a godsend across-the-board, with the Labor Department reporting 308,000 new jobs in March, the highest monthly job growth number since spring 2000. Added Bush: “And since August, we’ve added over three-quarters of a million new jobs in America. The unemployment rate has fallen from 6.3 percent last June to 5.7 percent last month.”
But the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a respected liberal think tank in Washington, was quick to point out, “Americans are working less, not more, due to shorter average work weeks. The rise in the number of payroll jobs was more than canceled out by a decline in the number of hours worked in the average payroll job.” Citing the Labor Department as its source, the think tank noted, “The total number of hours worked by all Americans in payroll jobs declined in March.”
In addition, the think tank said, “The gain of 308,000 new jobs was canceled out by equally large losses in self-employment . . . and the percentage of Americans at work is the lowest for any March in 10 years.” It also pointed out that the ranks of the long-term unemployed—those who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks and are still looking for a job—rose by 117,000 in March.
Additional reporting: Alicia Ng, Ashley Glacel, and Phoebe St John