April Bureau of Labor Statistics Report: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

May 5, 2017

President Donald Trump’s election encouraged economists that more jobs would soon be on the way. But the April Bureau of Labor Statistics report, while better than anticipated and only the second of the Trump administration, looked disappointingly similar to the uninspiring jobs data during President Obama’s two terms.

Twin Falls, Idaho, Chobani Yogurt plant where hundreds of refugees work at jobs Americans would do.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 211,000 in April, and the unemployment rate ticked down to 4.4 percent. But revisions to the February and March reports showed a net 6,000 fewer jobs than previously indicated. The largest number of April job gains came in the leisure and hospitality sector, 55,000, followed by health care, 20,000, and social assistance, 17,000. Most of these jobs, however, are low-paying, and many are part-time. Earnings for all employees rose by 7 cents to $26.19, continuing an upward trend, but way below ideal.

Other news similar to that reported over the last several years: the April labor participation rate showed little change at 62.9 percent; the number of Americans not in the labor force rose by 162,000 to 94.4 million, the highest of 2017, and the number of unemployed is 7.1 million. The long-term unemployed, those jobless for 27 weeks or more, totals 1.6 million.

All things considered, President Trump needs to convert his “hire American” campaign promise into a labor market reality. Early indications are that he’s forgotten, or at least put on hold, those pledges.

The $1.1 trillion Omnibus budget bill will fund refugee resettlement. Refugees are immediately work authorized, and have found their way into the mainstream employment market. Big business has made a significant push to hire more refugees which would come at the expense of American workers.

The Omnibus will also, to the detriment of vulnerable Americans without a college degree, increase by 70,000 the H-2B visa category designated specifically to import more cheap labor.

Finally, an estimated eight million illegal immigrants are in the labor market, most of them in non-agriculture jobs.

America is waiting for the so-called “Trump effect” to keep major manufacturing jobs in the United States and not outsourced. But in the meantime, President Trump remains curiously quiet on yet another campaign promise: mandatory E-Verify which he said would turn off the jobs magnet and protect unemployed Americans.

Go to the CAPS Action Alert page here, and urge your Senator to remind President Trump of his promise. Senate bill S 179 would mandate E-Verify.

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