The hiring of staff in April was a huge disappointment. The number of non-farm workers rose by 266,000, significantly less than expected, and the unemployment rate rose to 6.1% due to the increasing shortage of available labor.
Dow Jones estimated 1 million new jobs and an unemployment rate of 5.8%.
Many economists had expected an even higher number, given the signs that the US economy was coming back to life.
There was even more bad news: the originally estimated total of 916,000 in March was brought down to 770,000, despite an upward revision from 468,000 to 536,000 in February.
“I think this is as much about a lack of labor as it is a lack of labor demand,” said Jason Furman, an economist at Harvard University and a former advisor to the Obama administration. “If you look at April, it seems like there were around 1.1 unemployed for every vacancy. So there are a lot of jobs out there, there just isn’t a lot of labor.”
The ailing leisure and hospitality industry saw the largest hiring gains with 331,000 employees, although the industry still lagged nearly 2.9 million fewer than before the pandemic.
However, the labor shortage is a “crisis,” said Carlos Gazitua, president and CEO of Sergio’s Southern California restaurants.
“We have raised wages. We have about three different recruitment agencies that are always looking for people,” said Gazitua. “Other diners are walking around the neighborhood handing out flyers. The heroes in our communities are the people who are currently working for you and me. These people are burned out.”
The Other Services industry next hired 44,000 people, largely driven by increases in repair and maintenance, personal and laundry services.
Local government education created 31,000 jobs by the time children returned to school, while welfare increased by 23,000. Financial activity increased by 19,000.
Professional and business services saw temporary employment jobs fall sharply by 111,000, while support services lost 15,000 jobs. Courier assistance fell by 77,000 and manufacturing lost 18,000 jobs.
The report is based on robust growth, with gross domestic product rising 6.4% year-on-year in the first quarter and the same number of economists seeing a breakout of 10% or more in the second quarter.
Companies have accelerated the pace of hiring as restrictions related to Covid have been relaxed amid widespread vaccine distribution and declining cases and hospital stays. There are signs that the hiring pace is likely to continue into the summer as the number of new unemployed fell below 500,000 for the first time since the pandemic began last week.
Federal Reserve officials have recently expressed confidence in the pace of the recovery, but stressed that more lies ahead. The central bank has pledged to return to full employment that encompasses all races, genders and income classes, and has pledged to maintain its ultra-light policies even amid rapid growth.
The Fed has stressed that despite the large job gains, there were still millions of pre-pandemic Americans who have not yet returned to work.
At the same time, the Biden administration wants Congress to allocate around $ 4 trillion more to spending in a wide range of areas it considers infrastructure.
Meanwhile, several economic indicators have shown a strong rebound in stimulus-driven retail spending, manufacturing and the continued strength of the real estate market.
This activity has occurred as the US vaccinates more than 2 million people daily, a pace that has slowed recently but is still going strong.
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