Nightly News | May 04, 2012
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: We received some important new economic numbers today about jobs specifically.
And when you boil it all down, two things are true: Unemployment continues to go down, but it's also true that hiring has slowed down, as well. This nation gained just 115,000 jobs last month. And again, the good news is unemployment is down again, though slightly, to 8.1 percent.
WILLIAMS: Some fear, though, what today's new numbers mean for the pace of recovery. Others fear more people have stopped looking for work. And in an election year, it is all, as you might imagine, under a microscope tonight. We begin here this evening with NBC 's John Yang in Washington .
JOHN YANG reporting: Behind the facts and figures of today's jobs report are the real stories of the people desperate for a job, like Kevin Calmus . She's been out of work for more than two years and her unemployment benefits ran out two months ago.
Ms. KEVIN CALMUS: The person I was is gone. Now I'm this person who sits around trying to figure out how to pay the bills and look for work.
YANG: She's given up hope of finding a job as good as her old one as a manufacturing production manager.
Ms. CALMUS: I'm not looking for a career. I'm looking, you know, to keep the roof over my head.
YANG: Calmus may still be looking, for hundreds of thousands of like her have thrown in the towel, and that helps explain the slightly lower unemployment number. Today's report show that the total number of Americans with jobs actually fell last month, but the unemployment rate still ticked down because fewer people were either working or looking for work. More of the unemployed said last month that they were so discouraged, they'd given up looking altogether. In previous months, mild weather led construction companies, hotels and restaurants to start seasonal hiring earlier than normal, fueling optimism that the recovery was gaining traction.
Professor BETSEY STEVENSON (University of Pennsylvania): I don't think that there's enough evidence to say that the recovery is by any means slowing. I just think that we were all a little bit overly optimistic in thinking that it might be speeding up.
YANG: The numbers quickly became a political issue. At a campaign event in Pennsylvania , Mitt Romney got back on his key message.
Former Governor MITT ROMNEY: This is a time when America wants to have someone who knows what it takes to create jobs and get people working again. I think it helps to have had a job to create a job, and I have and I will.
YANG: At a high school outside Washington , where some seniors are about to join the workforce, President Obama tried to emphasis the positive.
President BARACK OBAMA: More than one million jobs in the last six months alone, so that the good news. But there's still a lot of folks out of work, which means that we've got to do more.
YANG: More politically, as well. Not since Franklin Roosevelt has a president been re-elected while facing unemployment at 8 percent or higher on Election Day . President Obama can point to improvements, though. Just a year ago, the unemployment rate was 9 percent. Brian :
WILLIAMS: John Yang in suburban Washington , starting us off tonight, John , thanks.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: And on Wall Street here in New York today, the jobs report sent stocks lower. The Dow was down 168 points, Nasdaq plunged just under 68. S&P 500 lost over 22 points on the day.