The April Jobs Report is out, and it's not good news. Don't be fooled by the 5 percent unemployment rate that stayed flat from March into April this year. After all, that figure is just the percent of people who are actively looking for work and cannot find any. In April, hiring slowed to only about 160,000 jobs added. At the same time, more Americans exited the work force entirely, keeping our workforce participation rate low, now at 62.8 percent.
Earlier this spring it looked like this figure was finally going to start trending in the right direction, and that more Americans were finally going back to work. Today's jobs report draws that conclusion into question. It could be that things turn around again in May — let's hope so, for the sake of the many out-of-work Americans who've given up.
Sadly, a bad jobs report means the Federal Reserve probably won't immediately address our very low interest rates, which we really ought to raise sooner or later. Low interest rates are good for borrowers, but bad for savers, and limit our national ability to respond to economic crises.
Our economy only grew by 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2016, the slowest growth rate in two years. It's no wonder that 65 percent of Americans say we are on the wrong track. The President appeared on television this morning urging Congress to take up some economic reforms, like increasing the minimum wage, to aid working families. Ironically, raising the minimum wage would only lead to less hiring, and fewer opportunities for those who are out of work.
Instead, to get hiring going again, our policymakers should consider reforms that spur economic growth. Economic growth fuels job growth and wage growth. IWF covers many of these reforms in our latest Working for Women Report, including pro-growth tax reform, occupational licensing reforms, and removing the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate. Americans need more economic opportunity in order to provide for their families and pursue the American Dream. Only policies that expand economic freedom and spur growth will address that need.