From Wall Street to the White House, expectations were high for a hiring surge in April with potentially a million Americans returning to work. Instead, the world learned Friday that just 266,000 jobs were added, a massive disappointment that raises questions about whether the recovery is on track.
President Biden’s team has vowed that its massive stimulus package will recover all the remaining jobs lost during the pandemic in about a year, but that promise won’t be kept unless there’s a big pickup in hiring soon. There are still 8.2 million jobs left to recover. At the same time, business leaders and Republicans are complaining that there is a “worker shortage,” and they largely blame the more generous unemployment payments and stimulus checks for making people less likely to take low-paying fast food and retail jobs again. Democratic economists counter that companies could raise pay if they really wanted workers back quickly.
One way to make sense of this weak jobs report is to do what Wall Street did and shrug it off as an anomaly. Stocks still rose Friday as investors saw this as a blip. They think there is just a lag in hiring and more people will return to work as they get vaccinated. And they point out oddball months have occurred before, especially with some weird quirks in the Labor Department’s seasonal adjustments.