Good Friday wasn't as good for jobless folks when examining this month's jobs report. The U.S. Department of Labor gave its usual and highly anticipated report on unemployment, and it wasn't anything to celebrate. While the rate ticked down slightly for Americans, with overall unemployment falling to 8.2% in March, it was only down from 8.3% in February.
That's nothing to brag about.
More Americans left the labor force than entered in March. In February, there were 154,871,000 people in labor force. In March, the number of people in the labor force fell to 154,707,000. The number of employed also fell, from 142,065,000 in February to 142,034,000 in March. The number of unemployed also fell from 12,806,000 in February to 12,673,000 in March.
African Americans, however, enjoyed another experience. The unemployment rate edged slightly lower from 14.1% in February to 14.0% in March. The number of African Americans in the labor force increased from 18,363,000 in February to 18,427,000 in March. The number of employed African Americans increased from 15,769,000 in February to 15,843,000 in March.
Believe it or not, African American employment has been on an upward trend, increasing steadily since December 2011. The number of employed African Americans stood at 15,047,000 in March 2011, so year-to-date the number of employed has increased 5.3%.
Politically, conventional wisdom says this employment trend may help cement support for President Obama. Unfortunately, the trend could be short-lived. Increasing fuel prices during the summer travel months and an expected slowdown in gross domestic product may have a negative impact on job gains. According to University of Maryland business professor Peter Morici, the economy grew at 1.7% in 2011, but is expected to slow down to 2.5% in 2012.
"Growth is weak and jobs are in jeopardy, because temporary tax cuts, stimulus spending, large federal deficits, expensive and ineffective business regulations, and costly health care mandates do not address structural problems holding back dynamic growth and jobs creation-the huge trade deficit and dysfunctional energy policies,"added Morici.