There’s no way to sugarcoat today’s employment report. The U.S. Department of Labor reports,
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 266,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was
little changed at 6.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Notable
job gains in leisure and hospitality, other services, and local government education were
partially offset by employment declines in temporary help services and in couriers and
As the Associated Press reports, this was below expectations and down from the previous two months.
America’s employers added just 266,000 jobs last month, sharply lower than in March and a sign that some businesses are struggling to find enough workers as the economic recovery rapidly strengthens.
The economic rebound from the pandemic recession has been so fast that many businesses, particularly in the hard-hit hospitality sector — which includes restaurants, bars and hotels — have been caught flat-footed and unable to fill all their job openings. Some unemployed people have also been reluctant to look for work because they fear catching the virus.
From month to month, though, the gains in the job market could prove choppy, as Friday’s jobs report suggested.
“This sort of stop-start pace of hiring means the job market recovery could be more laborious than hoped,” said Leslie Preston, an economist at TD Economics. “We continue to expect that with government stimulus and ongoing vaccinations supporting a release of pent-up demand that hiring will return to a more solid pace over the coming months.”
Still, there are signs of optimism. Seattle Times business columnist Jon Talton writes that the end of the lockdowns is closer than you think. That’s not the end of business challenge, of course, he reports.
Whether Seattle wants to reclaim its place is less certain than emerging from the latest plague. Not only COVID-19 but crime and a breakdown in homeless services badly damaged businesses, while a City Council majority with other priorities looked on.
Said DSA’s Scholes, “Cities are desirable. But you have to get the fundamentals right. That includes a responsible approach to public safety and how to deal with people on the streets who are in desperate situations.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes enhanced unemployment benefits are imposing a drag on hiring.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is calling for Washington to immediately stop paying out-of-work Americans an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits, saying the boost in government aid is giving some recipients less incentive to look for work.
The business group said Friday that the supplemental unemployment benefit, part of the Biden administration’s efforts to support the pandemic-ravaged economy, results in about one in four recipients taking home more in unemployment pay than they earned when they were working.
The statement follows the release of surprisingly weak jobs data for April…
“The disappointing jobs report makes it clear that paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market,” said Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer. “We need a comprehensive approach to dealing with our workforce issues and the very real threat unfilled positions poses to our economic recovery from the pandemic.”
Regardless of the factors, today’s numbers are disappointing and call for an urgent focus on economic recovery.