Only 115,000 jobs were added to the rolls in April, which is well below the tepid forecasts. The unemployment rate ticked down to 8.1 percent from 8.2 percent in March, but the drop could have been due to more people dropping out of the workforce. From the NYT:
The United States economy is producing even more goods and services than it did when the recession officially began in December 2007, but with about five million fewer workers. Given the many productivity gains across the economy - that is, the fact that employers have learned how to make more with fewer workers - there is also debate about what exactly "healthy" employment would look like in the current economy, and whether it still makes sense to use the pre-financial-crisis economy as a benchmark for what the employment landscape should look like. On Thursday, John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, suggested that the "natural" rate of unemployment might now be as high as 6.5 percent. Before the recession, economists generally believed it was around 5 percent.
Here's the BLS release. We'll have more later.