Here’s some good news for your Friday: The economy is handing out jobs like Oprah on Favorite Things day.
This morning’s jobs report was much better than expected, with numbers that, in Business Insider headline terms, “CRUSHED EXPECTATIONS.” 288,000 jobs were added last month, compared to the 200,000 new jobs economists were looking for. The unemployment rate dropped, too, to 6.3 percent, its lowest level in five years. (Though some of that was owed to a shrinking labor force participation rate.) The ranks of the long-term unemployed — the number I look at first, since those who have been jobless for months are often the last to find work in a recovery — shrunk by 287,000, and the numbers for February and March were revised upwards as well. Overall, this is a jobs report only Jack Welch could hate. For everyone else, there’s good news aplenty.
As Neil Irwin and Kevin Quealy wrote yesterday, there’s a lot of statistical noise in a jobs day figure, and it’s a mistake to read too much into a single report, or even a handful of consecutive ones. But the overall contours of the labor market are important, and this month’s numbers leave no doubt that this economic recovery is accelerating, not just plodding along at speed.
The Fed showed this week that it isn’t budging from its strategy of slowly dialing back its emergency bond-buying program. Fed chair Janet Yellen has proven that she looks at more than headline unemployment numbers to determine the Fed’s course of action, which is a good thing insofar as it keeps them from taking away stimulus too soon. But everyone not currently employed on the open markets committee of a central bank can breathe a little easier today. The economy is moving from barbecue growth (low and slow) to fast, marked improvement. Let’s try not to mess it up this time.