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US jobs growth much weaker than expected

BBC News logo BBC News 7/5/2021
a man is walking down the street © Getty Images

US employers hired fewer workers than expected last month despite a huge stimulus package that saw the government send $1,400 (£1,003) cheques to most Americans.

Nevertheless, just 266,000 jobs were added in April and the unemployment rate edged up to 6.1%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It said a hiring spree among leisure and hospitality businesses was offset by declining courier numbers.

In all, 9.8 million remain unemployed.

In February 2020, before lockdowns forced millions into unemployment, 5.7 million people were out of work.

In March, the Biden administration pushed through the $1.9tn stimulus package.

The latest jobs figures were well below the expectations of economists, who had predicted that anywhere from 900,000 to 2 million jobs would be added.

"Today's disappointing jobs numbers will heighten investor caution and raise concerns around the resilience of the US labour market - and to what extent the pace of the Covid-19 vaccination programme will boost economic activity and employment," said Richard Flynn, UK managing director at Charles Schwab.

"However, across economic metrics - from GDP to retail sales to job growth - boom conditions are evident. We are yet to see the full effect of this since the unemployment rate is one of the most lagging of economic indicators."

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