May 2 at 11:55am · Berkeley, CA ·
You will hear today that the American economy is gaining steam, adding 288,000 jobs in April, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent. What you’ll hear less is that 806,000 people dropped out of the labor force in April, most of them too discouraged to look for work. The percent of the population employed (58.9%) remains the lowest it’s been in over thirty years. Another thing you’ll hear little about is that average hourly earnings didn’t rise at all in April, and the new jobs continue to be disproportionately in low-wage industries – retail clerks, restaurants, hotels, bars, temporary help.
Five years into a so-called recovery, this is a dismal picture, but no one wants to talk about it. The White House and Democrats undoubtedly will talk up the continuing jobs growth. And Republicans will mutter about taxes being too high on the so-called “job creators” at the top. Neither will mention that the poor and the middle class continue to sink. Yet this is the new reality.