The April jobs report wasn’t everyone’s favorite: The U.S. economy added 160,000 jobs and the unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent. Wages seem to be going up, but the labor-force participation rate fell. Tom Perez, the U.S. Labor Secretary, says there’s good news in the report despite the fact that the topline number missed expectations.
“I think it's really important when looking at the overall outlook, it's not simply the number of jobs that matter, but who's getting the jobs and what they're being paid that's also important,” said Perez in a phone interview Friday. “What I like about this report is that it's another solid number. It's not as high as other numbers, but last year we had the second best year in the recovery, after the year before, and we had three months where we were below 160,000 jobs. What I was very heartened by in this report was that we're starting to see evidence of sustained real wage growth.”
Additionally, Perez says that the percentage of people who are long-term unemployed is now at its lowest level in seven years and that roughly two-thirds of the decline in the unemployment rate—which has held steady at 5 percent since October of last year—over the past year is from a reduction in the ranks of the long-term unemployed. “Employers are seeing tighter labor markets. They're taking a look at people that they were previously less willing to give a chance to,” says Perez.