After recent reports of sluggish economic growth and weak consumer spending, you can't blame people for not having looked forward to today's Labor Department release of the April unemployment numbers. But much of the pessimism was misplaced. The nation's unemployment actually decreased last month, down to 5 percent from 5.1 percent in March.
To be sure, employers are still cutting jobs. The net job loss totaled 20,000 last month, but that was less than analysts expected and is down from 81,000 in March. Manufacturing, retail, and construction all saw big job losses, but there were gains in education, healthcare, and government.