Payroll employment rose by 120,000 jobs in March with the unemployment rate falling slightly to 8.2 percent, according to the report released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Growth is always good news, but a look behind the numbers shows that this kind of growth is mediocre at best.
Despite the slight increase in payroll employment, the number of people in the labor force fell by 164,000. The overall number of employed persons rose by only 31,000. The reported slight fall in the unemployment rate would not have been possible were it not for the number of people who left the labor force.
Since the President’s inauguration, growth in payroll employment has averaged a loss of 45,000 jobs per month. The labor market has yet to fully recover from the economic recession and current growth is not enough to sustain a growing population.
The labor force participation rate remains at one of the lowest points in more than 25 years. While this reality has been materializing for quite some time, the changing demographics of this country warrant continued scrutiny. Today, the number of 16- to 24-year-olds participating in the labor force is about 54 percent. The rate for Americans ages 55 and over has increased, the only subset of the labor force to do so. Young Americans, in particular, should be seriously concerned about future prospects with limited job and economic growth and the increasing number of Baby Boomers working until higher ages.
The recent signing of the JOBS Act, hailed as a bipartisan victory, is but a very small step to help spur entrepreneurship and small business growth. Only a fundamentally pro-growth agenda will bolster lackluster jobs numbers and spur real growth.