Unemployment Rate Drops in April Even as Labor Force Increases

By Ali Meyer | May 8, 2015 | 9:35 AM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - The unemployment rate dropped from 5.5 percent in March to 5.4 percent in April even as the number of people in the labor force increased from 156,906,000 to 157,072,000 and the labor force participation rate increased from 62.7 percent to 62.8 percent.

The economy added 223,000 jobs in April, after March’s weak 85,000.

The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the civilian noninstitutional population who participated in the labor force by either having a job during the month or actively seeking one.

“In April, the civilian labor force participation rate (62.8 percent) changed little. Since April 2014, the participation rate has remained within a narrow range of 62.7 percent to 62.9 percent," the BLS said in its release  detailing the April employment data. In March, the participation rate was 62.7 percent.

In April, according to BLS, the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population, consisting of all people 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution, reached 250,266,000. Of those, 157,072,000 participated in the labor force by either holding a job or actively seeking one.

The 157,072,000 who participated in the labor force was 62.8 percent of the 250,266,000 civilian noninstitutional population, which matches the 62.8 percent rate in April, May, June, and October of 2014 and February of 2015 as well as the participation rate in March of 1978. The participation rate hit its lowest level since February 1978 (62.7 percent) in September and December of 2014 and March of 2015.

Of the 157,072,000 who did participate in the labor force, 148,523,000 had a job, and 8,549,000 did not have a job but were actively seeking one -– making them the nation’s unemployed.


 

The 8,549,000 job seekers were 5.4 percent of the 157,072,000 Americans actively participating in the labor force during the month of April. Thus, the unemployment rate for that month was 5.4 percent which had declined from the unemployment rate of 5.5 percent in March.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Asians increased to 4.4 percent in April, but the rates for adult men (5.0 percent), adult women (4.9 percent), teenagers (17.1 percent), whites (4.7 percent), blacks (9.6 percent), and Hispanics (6.9 percent) showed little or no change in April.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 6.6 million in April, but that was down by 880,000 from a year earlier. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In April, employment increased in professional and business services, health care, and construction, while employment in mining continued to decline.

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