April's Real Unemployment Rate

There’s a lot more to the employment report than just a couple of headline numbers. The April reporting for March became especially important. Is the economy slowing? Are we at risk of recession? What’s going on? These were among the many questions being debated over the past month. From the onset, I mentioned that the sky wasn’t falling, and we would see a much better showing with the next report. The report showed a headline unemployment rate of 3.8%, +196,000 jobs added in March, positive revisions from past months totaling +14,000 additional jobs for a net number of +210,000 jobs and +180,000 job average for the first quarter of 2019.

The top industries for hiring were healthcare, professional and business services and food service.

A few important takeaways:

  • 180,000 new jobs a month is solid with the unemployment rate near record lows and we ended the first quarter with a number above that average showing the potential for positive momentum entering Q2. 
  • The government numbers continue to contain significant revisions making it important to not overreact to initial information.

Now for the real unemployment rate once underemployed, long-term unemployed and marginally attached people are accounted for:              

  • Actual: 7.3% down from 7.9% year over year

Key takeaways:                

1. The real unemployment rate remains the lowest it’s been since March of 2001 and there are only five months in recorded American history with a lower real unemployment rate than what we currently have. 

2. Those unaccounted for in the base unemployment rate include 1.3 million long-term unemployed, 4.5 million are underemployed and 1.4 million are marginally attached to the workforce.    

3. The labor participation rate slipped a bit to 63%. 

Put it together and we ended the first quarter of the year on a high note. There's a real chance we could reach new record lows for employment in the second quarter.

Photo by: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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