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Unemployment rate drops 0.1 percent, showing 'positive momentum' in job market

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The White House hailed the better jobs picture. In a statement, Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said the last two months of private job gains have been the strongest in five years.

“We are seeing signs that the initiatives put in place by this Administration – such as the payroll tax cut and business incentives for investment – are creating the conditions for sustained growth and job creation.”

However, Republicans were less enthusiastic. In a statement, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the Joint Economic Committee, noted the nation had 7.2 million jobs less than before the recession began. “That’s not acceptable by any standard,” he said.

Deeper problems remain

Despite the improvement in the March jobs numbers, there are still some significant issues in the labor market, says Mr. Silvia.

“The real issue is that we have a structural unemployment problem,” says Silvia. “We have a lot of people with the wrong skills, or they are living in the wrong spot, such as Michigan or upstate New York, or they are trapped in houses they can’t sell without taking a big loss.”

According to the March numbers, the number of long-term unemployed, defined as those out of work for 27 weeks or more, was 6.1 million in March. Their share of the unemployed rose from 43.9 percent to 45.5 percent.

At the same time, the number of people who are working part-time because they can’t find full-time work remained at 8.4 million, the same as the prior month.

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