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NY Times, May 3 2014
Jump in Payrolls Is Seen as a Sign of New Optimism
By NELSON D. SCHWARTZ
After a frustrating series of false starts since the economic recovery
began five years ago, American businesses appear to be increasingly
confident about hiring new workers.
In the best monthly showing in more than two years, employers added
288,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department said on Friday, representing
three consecutive months in which payrolls grew by more than 200,000.
The report, combined with other recent data, suggests the economy is
poised to expand at a faster pace in the coming months, after a slow
start in the depths of winter.
Despite the big jump in payrolls, wages did not grow at all in April,
illustrating why so many Americans remain doubtful that they will
benefit from what both the Federal Reserve and the White House see as
evidence of a resurgent economy.
Even a sharp drop in the nation’s unemployment rate, to 6.3 percent from
March’s 6.7 percent, provided little cause for celebration, since it was
primarily because of a large decline in the number of people
participating in the labor force rather than an increase in the number
of Americans telling government survey workers that they had found a new
As a result, even as President Obama sought to seize on the upswing in
the job market as evidence that his policies are working, he continues
to struggle to capitalize politically on the improving economy.
Although the unemployment rate is at the lowest level of Mr. Obama’s
presidency, his job approval rating is also near a record low.
The feeble participation rate, which reflects the share of all
working-age adults with a job or actively looking for one, suggests a
sizable amount of slack remains in the labor force, helping keep wage
gains modest because employers know they can appeal to a wide range of
applicants when they have new jobs to offer.
But many companies draw from a relatively specialized pool, which is
good for those with appropriate skills but limits the possibilities for
those who are out of work.
Take the case of Synchronoss Technologies, a maker of software for cloud
computing and mobile communication. The company, based in Bridgewater,
N.J., is looking to hire roughly 150 workers in the next few months,
many of them in positions like software development and engineering that
start at $75,000 to $100,000. More senior positions pay $150,000 to
Most of those jobs require specialized skills and usually go to people
with extensive experience who are nearly all currently employed or to
college students and former interns.
“We could get 50 résumés for a position and two to four of those people
will be brought in for interviews,” said Stephen Waldis, Synchronoss’s
founder and chief executive. “If we’re lucky, that might yield one hire.”
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