These numbers are always a little misleading. (For instance, in the past month, I've been contacted by more than a dozen recruiters, which would indicate to me that at least some people are hiring.) But when jobless claims are down, we also have to consider the likelihood that many workers simply haven't been re-employed long enough to be eligible for unemployment benefits again.
What little growth there is seems to be concentrated in low-wage jobs, which isn't likely to drive a strong recovery:
The recent improvement in the nation’s job market slowed substantially in March as employers expanded payrolls by 120,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday.
The number of new jobs fell far below economists’ estimates and marked the first time since November that employers added fewer than 200,000 jobs. Despite the disappointing numbers, the nation’s unemployment rate ticked down to 8.2 percent.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) called the report evidence of an economy that continues to struggle.
“The level of growth we are seeing isn’t enough to make a difference for the millions of Americans still out of work or families facing high gas prices and the uncertainty of a lagging economy,” Cantor said in a statement. “Job growth happens when small businessmen and women in this country have the ability to take risks, invest capital and start hiring new workers.”
Many economists, pointing to a decline in jobless claims and a surge in retail sales, the stock market and consumer confidence, had expected March job creation to top 200,000 for the fourth consecutive month.
“The low job growth in March was an unpleasant surprise and underscores the fact that a robust jobs recovery has not yet solidified,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute.
The jobs report showed that retail employment declined by 34,000 in March, while employment increased in manufacturing, health care and leisure and hospitality.