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Economy Adds 290,000 Jobs in April - But State Government Layoffs Could Drag Down Economy

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the economy added 290,000 jobs in April, exceeding initial economic forecasts.  This marks the fourth consecutive month the country experienced economic growth and added workers.  Industries across the board saw increases in jobs, including construction, business services, education, health, and leisure and hospitality.  Manufacturing employment rose by 44,000 jobs, the largest expansion since 1998.  As Christina Romer, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) states, the "employment report shows the strongest signs yet of healing in the labor market." 

The jobs numbers indicate that the crucial investments in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) are spurring private job growth and boosting national economic performance.  The graph below depicts the slowing of job losses that followed the passage of the Recovery Act and the recent surge in job creation.

Unfortunately, while private sector job growth is now expanding, state and local governments actually lost 6,000 jobs in April-- and the overall unemployment rate remains stubbornly high.   Massive state budget shortfalls will likely exacerbate this alarming trend with potentially hundreds of thousands of state and local jobs lost if Congress does not act to provide additional help for states.

President Barack Obama acknowledged that while the job growth is encouraging, "we’ve got a ways to go" with unemployment rates still stubbornly high.  Accordingly, this points to the urgent need for federal action on further job creation and state fiscal relief measures.  Though Congress passed a modest small business package in March, conservative leaders in Congress continue to delay and even block additional support for state Medicaid programs, funding for educational programs, investments in infrastructure projects and public transportation, support for the long-term unemployed to sustain them until they reenter the workforce, and direct assistance to state and local governments to perform the vital services needed to maintain growth in local communities.

AFSCME's State and Local Fiscal relief action page provides critical resources to strengthen the advocacy efforts of individuals and organizations.  If you are a state or local lawmaker, please sign onto this letter calling on the President and Congress to move on a jobs and state fiscal relief plan.

Resources:
AFSCME - State and Local Fiscal Relief
Bureau of Labor Statistics - Employment Summary
Center for Economic and Policy Research - Unemployment Rises to 9.9 Percent, Driven by Jump in Labor Force Participation
Council of Economic Advisers - The Employment Situation in April
Progressive States Network - Saving Jobs: More Federal Action Needed on State Fiscal Relief
The New York Times
- Economy Gains Impetus as US Employers Add 290,000 Jobs
White House - Remarks by the President on the Monthly Jobs Numbers