Malls, mines, and machines: Where US jobs are made and lost

“The greatest jobs president that God ever created.”
“The greatest jobs president that God ever created.”
Image: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
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Spring has sprung for the US labor market.

There’s plenty of good news in the latest monthly jobs report, which will please president Donald Trump, who pledged to be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.” Trump has promised to revive the coal mining industry and bring back manufacturing jobs from abroad. But things are rarely straightforward with the president, so with every bit of good news also comes a bit of bad.

Here’s what Trump might make of the latest data, channeling his own voice.

US employment is up. Tremendous!

Employers added 211,000 jobs in April, beating economists’ expectations for a 190,000 gain. This was a welcome recovery after March recorded the weakest job growth in 10 months. What’s more, the jobless rate fell to 4.4% last month, the lowest in a decade.

So-so wage growth. Bad!

Average hourly earnings increased 2.5% in April versus a year earlier, stuck at a similar rate for the past several months. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate dipped slightly to 62.9%, from 63%.

Coal mining jobs are up. Enjoy!

The steady decline in coal mining jobs seems to have reversed itself, at least for now.

Retail jobs are reeling. Terrible!

General merchandise stores, which include the department stores that anchor many malls, are bearing the brunt of the US retail industry’s miserable few months, shedding 53,000 jobs so far this year. The retail industry has lost as many jobs in the past few months as there are in the entire coal industry.

More manufacturing jobs. Thank you!

In April, 6,000 more jobs were added in the manufacturing industry, a key gauge of whether Trump is keeping his promise to revive blue-collar industries in America’s rust belt.

Manufacturing is less important than ever. FAKE NEWS!

The latest gain did little to reverse the long decline of the manufacturing industry’s weight in the US labor market, which is comprised mainly of service-based jobs. The industry with the strongest job growth last month was health care and social assistance, with almost 37,000 jobs  added in April.