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April Jobs Report Disappoints

The economy produced just 266,000 in April, while the unemployment rate was little changed at…

  • May 27, 2021

The economy produced just 266,000 in April, while the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.1 percent, according to a new report from the Labor Department. This clocks in well below the million or so jobs experts had predicted.

After all, U.S. vaccination rates have risen to the point where Americans are finally crawling out of pandemic lockdown mode. Also, a rising tide of government spending was meant to jump start a vibrant recovery. Yet, the economy produced a relatively paltry number of new jobs.

Both the unemployment rate, at 6.1 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 9.8 million, were little changed in April.

These measures are down considerably from their recent highs in April 2020 but remain well above their levels prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (3.5 percent and 5.7 million, respectively, in February 2020).

Among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff, at 2.1 million, changed little in April. This measure is down considerably from the recent high of 18.0 million in April 2020 but is 1.4 million higher than in February 2020. The number of permanent job losers, at 3.5 million, was also little changed over the month but is 2.2 million higher than in February 2020.

In April, the number of persons jobless less than 5 weeks increased by 237,000 to 2.4 million, while the number of persons jobless 15 to 26 weeks declined by 188,000 to 1.2 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 4.2 million, was essentially unchanged in April but is 3.1 million higher than in February 2020.

These long-term unemployed accounted for 43.0 percent of the total unemployed in April.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons decreased by 583,000 to 5.2 million in April. This decline reflected a drop in the number of people whose hours were cut due to slack work or business conditions. The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons is 845,000 higher than in February 2020.

These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.

In April, 18.3 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, down from 21.0 percent in the prior month. These data refer to employed persons who teleworked or worked at home for pay at some point in the last 4 weeks specifically because of the pandemic.

In April, 9.4 million persons reported that they had been unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic–that is, they did not work at all or worked fewer hours at some point in the last 4 weeks due to the pandemic.

This measure is down from 11.4 million in the previous month.

Among those who reported in April that they were unable to work because of pandemic-related closures or lost business, 9.3 percent received at least some pay from their employer for the hours not worked, little changed from the previous month.

In April, notable job gains in leisure and hospitality, other services, and local government education were partially offset by losses in temporary help services and in couriers and messengers.