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Slowdown for the US employment rate

Just 115,000 new jobs added in April.

The US economy added just 115,000 new jobs to the non-farm payroll in April – a substantial drop from 154,000 in March – according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of unemployed (12.5 million) and the unemployment rate of 8.1 per cent changed little.

Employment in professional and business services increased by 62,000, retail trade employment rose by 29,000 and health care continued to add 19,000 jobs. 

Employment in food and drink services rose by 20,000, while manufacturing employment continued its upward trend (+16,000).

Transportation and warehousing lost 17,000 jobs in April, with declines in transit and ground passenger transportation (-11,000) and couriers and messengers (-7,000).

Work was stable in other major industries, including mining and logging, construction, wholesale trade, information, financial activities and government.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls rose by 1 cent to $23.38.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.5 per cent), adult women (7.4 per cent), teenagers (24.9 per cent), whites (7.4 percent), and Hispanics (10.3 per cent) showed little or no change in April, while the rate for African Americans (13 per cent) declined over the month. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.2 percent in April (not seasonally adjusted). 

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) remained at 5.1 million in April. The civilian labour force participation rate declined in April to 63.6 per cent, while the employment:population ratio was near-static at 58.4 per cent.

The number of those employed part-time for economic reasons was 7.9 million.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.