Private Employers Add Most Jobs In Four Years, Job Seekers Optimistic

May 07, 2010 10:49 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

On the first Friday of each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases updated employment numbers.  For most of last year, job losses trended downward, reflecting the immediate impact of the economic recovery act.  Since the beginning of 2010, the employment picture has steadily improved and job totals have increased. The latest statistics, reported this morning, provided more good news:

More confident employers stepped up job creation in April, expanding payrolls by 290,000, the most in four years. The jobless rate rose to 9.9 percent as people streamed back into the market looking for work.

The hiring of 66,000 temporary government workers to conduct the census helped overall payroll growth last month. However, private employers - the backbone of the economy - boosted jobs, too. They added a surprisingly strong 231,000 positions last month, also the most since March 2006, the Labor Department reported Friday. [...]

The unemployment rate rose from 9.7 percent in March to 9.9 percent in April, mainly because 805,000 jobseekers - perhaps feeling better about their prospects - resumed their searches for work.

What's more, the numbers for February and March were both revised upwards.  Altogether, the economy has now added 573,000 jobs in four months.  As James O'Sullivan, the chief economist at MF Global said, "This is an unambiguously strong report."

However, conservative lawmakers are unwilling to accept the fact that America is on the path to recovery.  After putting all their eggs in the stimulus-will-fail basket, Republicans are latching on to any excuse for pessimism.  For instance, in a statement this morning, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) cited the slight rise in unemployment as evidence of "failed Democrat policies."

Of course, as explained above, the unemployment rate reflects increased optimism about the economy.  The fact that more Americans have a positive outlook on their future and are reentering the job market should be celebrated, not spun for political gain. 

In any case, this morning's report is further evidence that progressive economic policies have helped reverse the damage done by the previous administration.  See the chart below showing job totals per month since the beginning of the recession: