MI Responds: May 2017 Jobs Report
It is fitting that President Trump withdrew from the Paris Accord the day before the Labor Department issued its employment report for May, thereby saving the economy from future higher energy prices and additional regulation. With only 138,000 jobs created, a downward revision of 66,000 jobs over the past 2 months, and a decline in the labor force participation rate, the economy needs to do better.
Some might think that a decline in the unemployment rate to 4.3% is good news. Not this time. The decline was caused by a shrinking labor force participation rate, the share of the population that is either working or looking for work. It declined by two-tenths of a percentage point, following a tenth of a percentage point decline in April. For more economic growth the labor force participation should be rising—Americans need to be moving into the labor market, not out of it.
On the positive side, the number of private sector jobs created was 147,000. The number of people working involuntarily part-time due to slack business conditions declined by 92,000, so some who had part-time jobs in April found full-time jobs in May.
But this is a slight silver lining to a cloudy report. President Trump had unilateral authority to back out of the Paris Accord, and he took the right step. But he cannot reinvigorate the economy alone. The message of today’s jobs report is that Congress needs to pass tax reform to spur economic growth. Reducing the corporate tax rate to 15 percent or 20 percent, compared with the average of 25 percent for our industrial competitors, would be a game-changer.
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