Unemployment Is (Barely) Down


And now for even more reasons to be skeptical about the alleged economic recovery: Unemployment is down, but a smaller share of Americans are in the labor force and many have just given up on trying to find work.

The newest Bureau of Labor Statistics data came out this morning, and the April jobs numbers ain’t great.

Yes, the U.S. did add 115,000 jobs, bringing down unemployment .1 points, from 8.2 to 8.1 percent.

But — and isn’t there always a but? — fewer people are in the workforce.

Check it out: The proportion of working-age Americans in the labor force went down in the past month to 63.6 percent which, as the Times notes, is the lowest level since 1981.

The number of discouraged workers — people “not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them” — didn’t change much from last year: It still hovers at 968,000.

In the Empire State, what appear to be the latest figures put unemployment at 8.7 percent, compared to 8.2 percent for March of last year. In New York City, it has hit 9.8 percent, up from 8.6 percent in March 2011. For jobs, the worst is Bronx County, with 13.6 percent unemployment.

Commentators have pointed out that the economy might make or break President Barack Obama’s re-election bid in November. Many Republicans have already pounced on the just-released jobs report, and are trying to use it to bolster Mitt Romney’s businessman-based candidacy.