United States Economy Gained 266,000 Jobs in April
This morning, the United States Labor Department had good and bad news about the nation’s economic recovery. According to the agency’s latest report, the U.S. added 266,000 jobs during the month of April. While any gain in jobs is a good thing, the disappointment comes from the fact that economists had anticipated numbers to reach as high as one million jobs. What’s more, March’s figures were revised down by 146,000, bringing the new total for that month to 770,000. Also notable is that the economy is still down 8.2 million jobs since February 2020. Meanwhile, despite the overall job gains, the unemployment rate also ticked up from 6% in March to 6.1% in April.
Not surprisingly, the industry seeing the greatest number of jobs come back online was leisure and hospitality. That vertical added 331,000 payrolls during the month. More specifically, 187,000 of those jobs were in dining and drinking establishments. The amusements, gambling, and recreation sector also added to the positive number with a gain of 73,000 jobs while businesses in the “accommodation” space added 54,000 jobs.
With the vaccine roll-out continuing and many cities easing restrictions, it was hoped that the month would bring significant job gains. However, reports suggest that some employers are having trouble finding employees to hire. Furthermore, Marketwatch cites a survey that found 60% of small businesses attempted to hire in Aprl. As a result, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is now calling on Congress to end the program that authorized $300 in extra weekly unemployment benefits. In a statement, the Chamber’s Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley said, “The disappointing jobs report makes it clear that paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market. One step policymakers should take now is ending the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit. Based on the Chamber’s analysis, the $300 benefit results in approximately one in four recipients taking home more in unemployment than they earned working.”
Other commenting on the mixed jobs report include economist Justin Wolfers who tweeted, “This is a big miss that changes how we think about the recovery.” Similarly, Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao noted, “The report is a bit of a head scratcher that tempers recent projections of a smoothly accelerating economic recovery. By all accounts, the improving public health situation should drive faster job gains, but the report is a humbling reminder that the road to recovery is not a straightforward one in a pandemic.”
Unfortunately, while it was once believed that the economy could see a “V-shaped” recovery, that has turned out not to be the case. Although job figures are still heading in the right direction overall, it seems as though Congress and other leaders will now need to make some difficult decisions regarding how to move forward. Whether they wait until May’s number surface before taking action remains to be seen but we can expect plenty of debate on the topic in the weeks ahead.