April 2021 Jobs Numbers

The Jobs Numbers Were Disappointing. Here’s Why

Morning Consult’s high frequency economic indicators in April pointed to an economic slowdown

A waiter sets up outdoor seating in front of a daiquiri shop in the French Quarter on July 14, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
  • Employers only added 266,000 jobs in April, down from over one million in March, and the unemployment rate actually ticked up one percentage point to 6.1%.

  • Morning Consult’s high frequency indicators have shown that the demand for workers remained stubbornly weak throughout April.

  • In April, we saw an increase in pay losses across the income spectrum, and a growing share of employed workers expect to lose pay or income in the next month – signaling that the recovery is losing momentum.

The following analysis is based off of Morning Consult’s high frequency economic indicator data. Read more from our April 2021 U.S. Consumer Outlook report.

What happened?

Employers only added 266,000 jobs in April, down from over one million in March, and the unemployment rate actually ticked up one percentage point to 6.1%.

What Morning Consult’s data says

Morning Consult’s high frequency indicators have shown that the demand for workers remained stubbornly weak throughout April:

 

  • Weekly pay losses remained elevated across the income spectrum, actually ticking up toward the end of the month among high-income adults.
  • Limited decreases in unemployment among low-income earners were not enough to meaningfully boost labor force participation.
  • A growing share of employed workers expect to lose pay or income in the next month.

Additionally, even if demand for workers were to increase, childcare responsibilities, health concerns and commuting obstacles all pose serious barriers to unlocking the full potential of the workforce.

What should we expect next?

  • As stimulus checks run out and vaccination rates plateau, it looks increasingly likely that the jobs recovery will play out slowly over the remainder of the year.
  • Discouraged workers aren’t going to come in from off the sidelines until they stop seeing their friends and neighbors lose their jobs or they have access to affordable childcare.
  • Until then, we’ll remain stuck in a paradoxical world of labor shortages in some parts of the economy and weaknesses in labor demand in others.

Read more from our April report on the U.S. consumer outlook.

Morning Consult