At 13 percent, down one point from 14 percent in March, the African-American unemployment rate showed the biggest improvement in April, Friday’s job report from the U.S. Labor Department showed. The national unemployment rate declined only slightly from 8.2 to 8.1 percent.
The Labor Department also reported on Thursday that weekly unemployment benefit applications fell by 27,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 365,000, which implies fewer layoffs and enough new hiring to lower the unemployment rate. However, the economy added just 115,000 jobs in April, which was far lower than the 150,000 to 175,000 that Georgia Tech economist Thomas Boston told BET.com that many economists predicted before the numbers came out.
The unemployment and the economy are the two issues on which President Obama is most vulnerable and the sluggish report provided fodder for Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney, Obama’s likely foe this fall. Romney and other Republicans said the numbers were disappointing and that the unemployment rate went down only because more people have given up looking for work.
"It's a terrible and very disappointing report this morning. Clearly the American people are wondering why this recovery isn't happening faster, what's taking years and years for the recovery to occur. And we seem to be slowing down, not speeding up. This is not progress," Romney said in an interview on Fox News.
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who also slammed the report, said in a statement that Obama’s “desperate hype-and-blame campaign will try to spin today's anemic jobs report six ways to Sunday, but the facts remain clear: too many Americans have been unemployed for far too long. For millions, the economy is simply not working."
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(Photo: Matthew Staver / Landov)