Signals that the U.S. economy had turned a corner and was now red hot and surging back from the COVID-19 crisis had sprung up everywhere. But the latest U.S. jobs report was a disappointment, given that it was much lower than analysts’ expectations.
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 266,000 in April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday (May 7). Its Employment Situation Summary had the unemployment rate, at 6.1 percent, largely unchanged. On the plus side, the leisure and hospitality sector continued to recover from pandemic job losses.
However, economists had predicted that payrolls would grow by 1 million in April, The Wall Street Journal reported — and that the unemployment rate would fall to 5.8 percent. The unemployment rate hit a record high of 14.8 percent last April, when the pandemic struck.
The BLS jobs report said U.S. employers added a seasonally adjusted 770,000 jobs in March, down from the 916,000 reported initially.
One big challenge for the U.S. economy is that the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) stayed roughly the same in April, at 4.2 million. That’s 3.1 million higher than in pre-pandemic February 2020.
Notably in April, 18.3 percent of employed persons worked remotely because of the pandemic. The good news is that the number declined from 21.0 percent in the prior month.
There was welcome news from the BLS in April for the leisure and hospitality sector, which saw the number of jobs rise by 331,000. More than half of the increase, or 187,000, was in food services and drinking establishments. However, employment in the industry is down by 2.8 million, or almost 17 percent, since February 2020.
On the down side in Friday’s report, employment at temporary help services declined by 111,000 in April. Also, employment as couriers and messengers fell by 77,000 last month — but is up by 126,000 since February 2020.
Overall, the economy appears to be rebounding as millions get vaccinated, the federal government provides fiscal stimulus and pandemic restrictions are loosened.
U.S. household incomes were up 21.1 percent in March, as U.S. consumers were getting their latest and largest stimulus checks from the federal government as part of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus plan. The American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law by Biden in March, also boosts unemployment benefits for the jobless by $300 weekly though Labor Day.
New jobless claims for the week ending May 1 came in at 498,000, the lowest level since the pandemic created an economic crisis in March 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
First-quarter U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 6.4 percent the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in an economic report. That’s the biggest first-quarter GDP increase since 1984.
Selected by EFXA