Unemployment Reaches New High, but with Glimmers of Hope Attached

Unemployment rose to 8.9 percent in April, with 539,000 more jobs being shed. It’s actually a better number than economists expected, and the lowest number of monthly job losses since October 2008.

President Obama called the numbers “somewhat encouraging” but still a “sobering toll.” He announced new initiatives to help the unemployed in a news conference Friday, including the creation of a new website, opportunity.gov, to help retrain the American workforce.

According to Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics, the jobs report was predictable. Employment numbers are lagging indicators, after all, and the fact that the labor market has mitigated the hemorrhaging of jobs to a degree is a sign of basic stabilization that’s in line with the recent run-up in the stock market. Construction spending has stabilized somewhat, industrial production will likely stabilize with the run off of inventory and the President’s stimulus package has still yet to produce its full effects. That said, Thornberg still predicts negative employment numbers for the rest of 2009 but predicts they will be smaller and smaller each month. Unemployment could still reach 10 percent when it’s all said and done, he says.

When we look back on this recession, it is likely that we will define April as a defining month the job market’s rebound, Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor said. There’s still plenty of bad news, including a record number of people looking for work for six months or longer, but it should not be lost on anyone that over five million people found jobs last month.

Among the sectors experiencing the most job growth are healthcare and government, Taylor says. The U.S. Census Bureau is hiring 66,000 positions for the 2010 – those are jobs that being filled right now.

And job seekers shouldn’t forget about start ups and small businesses, either. About 70 percent of the jobs created out of the 2001 recession went to companies with under 50 employees, according to Taylor.

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