April job report shows slower economic recovery

The meteoric recovery in the labor market seen in February and March has come down to earth according to the latest job numbers from April. Is this a sign of a major roadblock to economic recovery or just a minor setback?

The latest job report shows that only 266,000 new jobs were added in the month of April. This is much lower than the numbers from March, when the U.S. economy roared back with 770,000 new jobs. With the vaccine largely rolled out and many sectors of the economy rapidly reopening, the sluggish growth comes as a surprise to many economists.

It is a story that may sound somewhat familiar to anyone who’s been following real estate for the last few months. There appears to be a supply shortage in the labor market, similar to what has been seen in housing, lumber, and computer components. The number of job postings has gone up significantly, and wages have even gone up slightly as employers attempt to coax people back into the workforce to accommodate the long pent-up demand, as consumers resume normal life.

Economists are largely hopeful that the disappointing numbers from April are not indicative of a broader economic slowdown. Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, cautioned that no economic recovery is free from speed-bumps and setbacks

Locally, job numbers are fairly close to returning to pre-pandemic levels. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment was at 4.8% in the St. Louis metro area in March 2021. This is down significantly from the pandemic high of 13% last April, but still higher than the average over the last several years prior to COVID-19.

The anticipated initial public offering of local agriculture technology firm, Benson Hill, has also created buzz. Valued at $1.35 billion, Benson Hill’s going public is anticipated to create new jobs in St. Louis’s ag-tech sector, which employs around 15,000 people locally.

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