April Jobs Report: Gain of 428,000 Shows Vibrant Labor Market

April produced another solid month of job growth, the Labor Department reported Friday, reflecting the economy’s resilient rebound from the pandemic’s devastation.

U.S. employers added 428,000 jobs, the department said, the same as the revised figure for March. The unemployment rate in April remained 3.6 percent.

“The job market is proving to be a key source of resilience for the economy. Job creation will eventually settle into a slower pace as businesses feel the pinch of soaring inflation and tighter financial conditions, but gains will stay healthy,” said Oren Klachkin, a lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. “We think the economy has enough strength to create over 4 million jobs this year.”

The U.S. economy has regained nearly 95 percent of the 22 million jobs lost at the height of coronavirus-related lockdowns in the spring of 2020. And labor force participation has recovered more swiftly than most analysts initially expected, nearing prepandemic levels. The labor supply over the past year has not kept up with a record wave of job openings, however, as businesses expand to meet the demand for a variety of goods and services.

That has helped push up wages — the April survey showed average hourly earnings 5.5 percent higher than a year earlier — but those gains for workers have been largely offset by a surge in prices.

High inflation began last spring as demand from households and businesses collided with a chaotic reordering of the supply of goods and labor, and it has persisted longer than the Federal Reserve expected. The price pressures have been compounded by the war in Ukraine, which has upended energy and commodity markets, and another spell of coronavirus lockdowns in China, which has caused renewed supply chain disruptions.

As a result, the central bank has firmly pivoted to raising interest rates in an effort to cool consumer spending, business lending and demand for workers. If borrowing costs reach what officials call “restrictive levels,” a recession and a reversal of job gains could follow.

A range of analysts believe that increased business costs and labor supply issues may cause the pace of employment to crest soon anyway: The chief economist at Goldman Sachs, Jan Hatzius, recently forecast that payroll monthly growth would ease to 200,000 jobs in the coming months and continue to decelerate.

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