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After a gain of 916,000 nonfarm jobs in March, only 266,000 jobs returned in April, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

The unemployment rate rose slightly, from 6.0% to 6.1%, leaving 9.8 million unemployed for the month — that’s 2.6% and 4.1 million behind pre-pandemic levels.

Little change in unemployment rates

Unemployment rates inched down for most groups in April, with slight increases for adult men and Black workers:

  • Adult men: 6.1% (5.8% in March)
  • Adult women: 5.6% (5.7% in March)
  • Teenagers: 12.3% (13.0% in March)
  • Black/African American: 9.7% (9.6% in March)
  • Hispanic/Latino: 7.9% (7.9% in March)
  • Asian: 5.7% (6.0% in March)
  • White: 5.3% (5.4% in March)

Pandemic-related job loss continues to drop

Long-term unemployment (jobless for six months or more) changed little in April and still represents 4.2 million people, 43% of the total unemployed. The number of those unemployed for less than five weeks went up by 237,000, reaching 2.4 million last month.

The labor force participation rate rose slightly, from 61.5% to 61.7%, and is now 1.6 percentage points below pre-pandemic levels. The number of job seekers not currently in the labor force also changed little at 6.6 million, still 1.6 million higher than in February 2020.

The pandemic’s influence on employment seemed to decrease significantly in April. The percentage of teleworking employees dropped from 21% in March to 18.3%. The number of people out of work due to pandemic-related business closures was also down, falling from 11.4 million to 9.4 million. And the number of people unable to look for work because of the pandemic decreased from 3.7 million to 2.8 million.

Leisure and hospitality grows, temp work declines

Leisure and hospitality continues to lead the way with job gains — employment for the industry jumped by 331,000, the majority of those jobs (187,000) in food and drinking places. However, the industry is still 2.8 million jobs behind its February 2020 status.

The remaining job gains were much smaller and included other services (44,000 jobs), local government education (31,000 jobs), social assistance (23,000), and financial activities (19,000).

Meanwhile, temporary help services took most of the losses in April, decreasing by 111,000 jobs. Other notable declines for the month included couriers and messengers (-77,000 jobs), manufacturing (-18,000 jobs), and retail trade (-15,000 jobs). 

With promising job increases in March and mass vaccinations, economists anticipated a jump of 1 million jobs in April. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Many people may still be unwilling or unable to return to work due to concerns like finding childcare and safely returning to the workplace. But progress may speed up as schools reopen and more Americans receive their second dose of the vaccination.