Jobs. With other news-making headlines this week, it's important to remember what's at the heart of this country. Too many Americans are out of work and as we await the big employment numbers on Friday, other reports don't give us much to cheer about.
The latest from payroll firm ADP out today shows the private sector added a modest 179,000 jobs in April. That was much lower than the 200,000 analysts had forecasted, and falling from 207,000 jobs created in March.
The increase was the smallest since last November, and the ADP had been holding relatively steady near 200,000 for months, so the drop in April is more than disheartening.
While the headline number was modestly disappointing, the small business hiring figures are downright alarming. Large businesses with 500 employees or more hired 11,000 new employees. Medium and small businesses each added 84,000 new workers.
This report marks the first time since October that small businesses hired fewer than 90,000 employees, and as you know small businesses are the driver of both economic and employment growth in this country.
The weak numbers could be a result of higher gas and other prices, concerns about the debt in Washington, geopolitical concerns, or all of the above.
Either way - it's not positive, especially ahead of Friday's big monthly report. The labor department is expected to say the unemployment rate held steady in April at 8.8%.
The jobless rate has shed a full percentage point since November - but has recently started leveling off again. The number of unemployed people stood at 13.5 million in March, as many discouraged workers are still not actively seeking jobs.
Right now, expectations are for the U.S. to have added 185,000 net jobs in April. In March - the economy added 216,000 jobs, with the private sector gaining 230,000— the 13th straight month of improvement.
So - it's not all doom and gloom.
And a separate report on company layoffs today shows employers continued to downsize their staff - but at a slower pace. Challenger, Gray and Christmas says employers announced plans to cut under 37,000 jobs in April – 12% fewer than in March.
But these reports should be proof positive - this administration's efforts to stimulate job creation are not working.
At what point do we throw in the towel - and move on to plan B?