The U.S. economy added a mere 266,000 jobs last month. Forecasters had floated gains close to 1 million, making this the biggest miss, relative to expectations, in decades.
Why it matters: It’s a major setback for the hopes of a speedy labor-market recovery alongside America’s great reopening.
Adding to the pain: Job gains in March were revised lower.
What they’re saying: “This is a big miss that changes how we think about the recovery,” economist Justin Wolfers tweeted.
A bright spot: The labor force grew significantly, a counterpoint to the narrative that generous unemployment checks are keeping Americans out of the workforce.
The unemployment rate ticked higher to 6.1%, but the broadest measure of unemployment fell from 10.7% to 10.4%.
Who liked the report? Markets reacted with elation, pricing in a Fed that continues to press hard on the accelerator for the foreseeable future.
What to watch: Expect President Biden and his economic team to double down on their argument for a $4 trillion-plus infrastructure and social-spending package, which they say can create jobs in everything from construction to clean energy.
Republicans will likely argue Biden’s proposed tax hikes will kill what’s shaping up to be an uneven recovery, but the administration’s focus will be on getting the spending plans passed — one way or another.
The bottom line: While it’s possible that April’s jobs report might yet be revised upwards, this number proves that economics is not a science and that America’s pandemic recovery is going to be rocky.