Economy & Business

April Jobs Report Falls a Stunning 800,000 Short of Expectations

People line up outside a newly reopened career center for in-person appointments in Louisville, Ky., April 15, 2021. (Amira Karaoud /Reuters)

U.S. job growth for the month of April fell far below what experts had predicted, as data reported Friday showed an increase of 266,000 jobs, versus an estimate of 1 million — the largest miss relative to expectations since at least 1998.

Economists had suggested a positive outlook for the report, with the White House hoping for a gain of at least 700,000 jobs — making Joe Biden the first president ever to hit 2 million new jobs in his first 100 days. But expectations came crashing back to reality with data showing an overestimation of nearly 800,000 — the worst miss in decades.

The U.S. unemployment rate rose slightly from 6.0 percent to 6.1. March’s payroll gains were also revised downward by nearly 150,000 jobs, from an initial print of 916,000 to 770,000. Labor force participation rate rose slightly, to 61.7 percent.

Overall, the country has gained back 63 percent of jobs lost over the last year due to the pandemic shutdowns — a gap of still 8.3 million. While college-educated workers have basically recovered to pre-pandemic levels of employment (-0.3 percent), those with some college or only a high school diploma lag far behind, at -7.5 percent and -7.8 percent, respectively.

As for specific industry-level employment, leisure and hospitality saw gains of approximately 331,000 in April, while manufacturing lost 18,000 jobs — led by a decline of 27,000 among auto workers as an ongoing chip shortage impacts production.

Some Republican states have started to enact programs to end the federal boost to unemployment insurance, which critics say incentivizes workers to stay home rather than seek work. This week, Montana said it would end the program next month, and offer a $1,200 bonus check to those who returned to work after their first four weeks. A similar program has now been announced in South Carolina and Florida.


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