If you happened to hear a loud, sustained moan of pain around 8:30 this morning, chances are it was the collective sound of the financial world reading the this month's jobs report. Employers added an anemic 69,000 positions to their payrolls in April, less than half of the 150,000 economists were predicting as of yesterday. Worse yet, the labor department revised down its estimate for March's jobs growth, from 115,000 all the way to 77,000. The unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 8.2 percent, as a few more Americans started hunting for work again (having apparently waited for the wrong time).
It was ugly. Like, Freddy Krueger ugly.
Earlier in the year, it seemed as if the U.S. labor market might be capable of defying the gravity of the world's economic problems. The country gained an average of 226,000 jobs a month from January though March, expanding as Europe spiraled into crisis and China showed signs of slowing down. But it might have been false hope. We know some of that economic activity was the result of an unusually warm winter, which moved up construction work earlier into the year. This month, building jobs shrank by 28,000 when seasonal adjustments are taken into account.