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Shocking Miss: The U.S. Economy Added Just 266,000 Jobs in April, Unemployment Ticks Up

The U.S. economy added just 266,000  jobs in April and the unemployment rate ticked up to 6.1 percent, the Labor Department said in its monthly labor assessment Friday, smashing expectations.

This was far below expectations. Analysts surveyed by Econoday had predicted Friday’s report would show between 755,000 and 1.25 million workers added to payrolls in April. The median forecast was for 938,000 and an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent.

The disappointing number for April could be a sign that hiring is being held back by enhanced unemployment benefits and schools that have not reopened full time, requiring some parents to stay home to take care of children. Many businesses say that they cannot hire enough workers to fill positions because of the government’s enhanced unemployment benefits program.

The economy has outperformed expectations on many metrics this year as vaccinations have boosted business and consumer confidence and restrictions on businesses have been lifted. Friday’s employment numbers represent a rare miss.

In April, average hourly earnings increased by 21 cents to $30.17, a 0.7 percent increase, following a decline of 4 cents in the prior month. Average hourly earnings for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 20 cents to $25.45.