Economy: The addition of 290,000 new jobs is great news for the economy and for those Americans who have struggled during the recession. But as good as it is, we're not out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot.
Those who are tempted to say it's time to declare the recession battle over and go home, based largely on the turnaround in jobs, are premature — to say the least.
Over the past three months, the U.S. economy did churn out 573,00 new jobs — on average, about 143,000 a month. Not bad.
But remember, just to keep the unemployment rate from dipping, businesses need to add about 119,000 jobs a month — a bit more than 1.4 million jobs a year — which roughly equals the number of net new entrants into the work force.
And don't forget — we were down 8.2 million jobs from the start of the recession to the end of 2009, so we have ground to make up.
April's jobs report did feature 290,000 new jobs. But taking away part-time Census jobs, private employers added 231,000 jobs in April and 174,000 in March.
Both nice gains, but the first, strong private job gains in years. Moreover, the jobless rate ticked up to 9.9% from 9.7% the month before, signaling more people are looking for jobs but can't find them.
That can be seen in the alternative unemployment measure, dubbed "U-6." In addition to those without jobs, U-6 measures those who are working part time but want full-time work, and those who have just given up looking. In April, U-6 unemployment stood at 17.1%, close to October's high of 17.4%.
This is no statistical fluke, as our own IBD/TIPP Poll has found. In our poll taken from April 30 through May 7, in which we queried hundreds of people across the country, 28% questioned said one or more members of their household was looking for a job.
Some 34% said they were worried a household member would lose a job. Almost half said they're looking for a job or worried they'll have to soon (see chart).
Taken together, it's a very unappetizing stew of fear, worry and anxiety over the job market.
So what has people so worried? In a word, the future.
Overseas, of course, some of our best markets are in worse shape than we are. The $145 billion European Union/IMF bailout of Greece, which includes at least $7 billion of U.S. money, doesn't end the euro's crisis. Spain, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and even Britain all have fiscal problems that might require bailouts — and hundreds of billions, if not trillions, more in money.