By Thomas Catenacci
The U.S. economy added 428,000 jobs in April while the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.6%, according to Department of Labor data released Friday.
The number of unemployed people remained even at about 5.9 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report. Economists projected 400,000 Americans would be added to payrolls prior to Friday’s report, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“The labor market continues to barrel along,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, told CNBC. “We need it, at this point in time, to slow down a bit because we’re going to blow past full employment and inflation is going to become a bigger problem than it already is. Ultimately, we need to get to something that’s closer to no more than 100,000 a month.”
Much of the job gains in April came in the leisure and hospitality sector while the construction, information and government sectors had muted job growth, the report showed. The total number of U.S. employees reached 151.4 million in April, inching closer to the pre-pandemic February 2020 level of 152.5 million workers.
The private sector, meanwhile, added 247,000 jobs in April, fewer than the 390,000 economists expected, according to the ADP National Employment Report released Wednesday. Large businesses, which added 321,000 jobs, accounted for the biggest slice of the job growth while medium-sized businesses added just 46,000 workers and small businesses lost 120,000 jobs.
“In April, the labor market recovery showed signs of slowing as the economy approaches full employment,” Nela Richardson, ADP’s chief economist, said in a statement. “While hiring demand remains strong, labor supply shortages caused job gains to soften for both goods producers and services providers. As the labor market tightens, small companies, with fewer than 50 employees, struggle with competition for wages amid increased costs.”
In addition, economists are increasingly more pessimistic about the economy, with many forecasting a recession. Bill Dudley, the former head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said a recession was “virtually inevitable” in a Bloomberg editorial.
The economy is the single biggest issue for Americans, according to a CNN poll published Thursday. Just 23% of respondents said the economy was “good” compared to the 54% that responded the same way a year ago.
“Our focus and the focus of many economists who look at this question of whether we’re headed toward a recession is on fundamental economic data, including the number of jobs that have been created, the growth of — of the GDP,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday. “Obviously, we have the unemployment rate at 3.6 percent — the biggest single-year drop in U.S. history.”
“Household balance sheets are strong, and businesses are investing in the United States,” she continued.
On Thursday, the stock market plummeted with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, an index measuring 30 major U.S. corporations, and the NASDAQ, an index composed largely of technology firms, marking their worst days since 2020, according to CNBC. The S&P 500, which measures 500 of the largest publicly traded companies, fell 3.56%, its second-worst day of the year.