Yes, the unemployment rate has fallen, but the number of new jobs created had absolutely nothing to do with that -- as Balz acknowledges in the 10th paragraph of his story. The jobless rate fell only because over 800,000 Americans dropped out of the labor force, he noted, and thus are no longer counted among the unemployed.
The Post seems to have trouble with this fact in some of the stories it's run since last Friday. "The jobless rate plunged [to] its lowest level since 2008 -- though part of that was due to workers leaving the labor force," the newspaper said in its business pages Sunday.
No, not "part of that," all of that.
Former Obama administration economic adviser Jared Bernstein tells us that April's "decline in unemployment is entirely due not to job creation, but to labor force decline," adding that "employment actually fell slightly" in BLS's household survey.
Economist Dean Baker, co-founder of the liberal-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research agrees.
The drop in unemployment "was entirely the result of 806,000 people leaving the labor force. Employment as measured in the household survey actually fell by 73,000," Baker writes.
There were 484,000 fewer workers younger than 25 in the April job numbers, and more than 800,000 fewer total workers, the Post's economics writer Ylan Q. Mui reported Saturday.
The labor force participation rate for younger workers between the ages of 16 to 19 is at "its second-lowest level ever," Mui reported.
To suggest, or even intimate, that one month's numbers, which came with a sea of negative data, was going to be a political game changer is the height of wishful thinking.
The stock market responded to the jobs report with a big yawn, with the Dow dropping 46 points Friday. Its been on a downward slide ever since. The "job gains failed to impress investors," the Associated Press said.
Little news media notice was given to the kind of jobs being created last month and the relatively tiny numbers in each of the sectors. The construction industry added only 32,000 jobs, while the professional and business services sector added 75,000 net jobs in a nation of more than 150 million workers.
Retailers, bars and restaurants each added more than 30,000 jobs, but these are among the lowest paid sectors in the economy, many involving only part-time work and certainly not a sign of robust, good paying job growth that in any way suggests the economy is turning around.
Seasoned labor force experts were not at all impressed by the job numbers and bluntly said so.
"I would say that this big drop in the unemployment rate is not consistent with a really robust labor market because that labor force participation rate did not rise, and the employment-to-population ratio is shockingly low," said Tara Sinclair, a professor of economics at George Washington University.
The White House thinks that if they can get the news media to report that the economy is growing stronger, the voters will begin to believe it.
Tell that to the millions of long term, unemployed people who've stopped looking for work because they can't find a full-time job They know better.