NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- There were 288,000 U.S. jobs added in April. It's no fluke.
After the government's announcement the economy added 283,000 jobs last month and that revisions to earlier months brought the rolling average for the last three months to 238,000, we can say it -- the recovery is here.
Unemployment is down to 6.3% of the work force, heading for the high fives before the end of the year -- perhaps even before the congressional elections in November.
Today's number is a fine number -- in the heart of the last recovery, job growth topped 250,000 per month only about one month in three from 2004 through 2006. Like it or not, this is what a pretty decent U.S. recovery looks like in a post-globalization world.
CNBC's Rick Santelli is in the background, ranting his usual rant about how it's a fluke. It's not. Here are five reasons why.
1. Consumers have money.
Granted, data on incomes have been very mixed. But personal incomes gained 0.5% in March, a good sign. Also, the Commerce Department reported that first-quarter personal income was up 3.5%, comfortably beating inflation.
2. Consumers have animal spirits.
The personal income report showed consumers more willing to spend and even to borrow. Confirming this, the Credit Union National Association says loan volume among its members 100 million clients rose 8.5% in the first quarter, well above a 5% gain in early 2013.
3. Construction is picking up.
Last August I wrote that the biggest of the four keys to getting 250,000 jobs a month was to see construction employment growth move to at least 15,000 a month from about 4,000. Last month, construction companies hired 32,000, and that was with only 7,000 new residential-construction hires after a weak March for housing starts. If housing picks up this spring, and especially if April's 11,000-job gain in heavy construction lasts, 32,000 could be something like a new normal.
4. Governments hired.
One of the weakest points of the recovery has been that government employment has actually dropped by 14,000 a month since 2009, as budget cuts made employment worse rather than better. To get to 250,000 new jobs a month, governments had to at least stop firing people and add 5,000 to 10,000 a month. In April, they hired 15,000.
5. There is no glut of workers coming back.
The Labor Department has previously found that more than three-fourths of the people who left the work force last year. The labor force participation rate fell to 62.8% of adults over 16 from above 66% in 2007, were people age 55 or older who don't want new jobs.
The heart of the case that the U.S. declines in unemployment are an illusion is the argument that the five million or so workers who drop in participation really do want jobs and really will re-enter the job market as soon as hiring picks up, slowing improvement in the unemployment rate. But that's not what the data say.
Sure, it's easy to make the contrary case. Someone will. Housing is still sloppy, and that's the biggest weak spot. Consumer confidence, while the best of the post-recession period, is still no better than in was in some past recessions, said Mike Schenk, senior economist at the Credit Union National Association. Weak first-quarter business investment bears watching.
But 288,000 matters. The 238,000 three-month average matters much more.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.
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