By Isaac Cohen*
The release of the report on job creation in April, by the Labor Department last week, unleashed a debate on the course of the US economic recovery. According to revised figures, in March job creation reached 770,000, but only 266,000 new jobs were created in April, while the unemployment rate increased to 6.1 percent, from 6 percent. The stock market rose, recognizing that less hiring means the central bank will continue supporting the recovery.
However, one side of the debate saw the report as evidence that the economy does not need more stimulus, given complaints from employers about labor shortages, mainly in the leisure and hospitality sector which saw vigorous hiring of 330,000 new jobs in April. By contrast, almost every other sector lost jobs, 111,000 in temporary employment, 18,000 in manufacturing and 70,000 in business and professional services. Several Republican legislators and the Chamber of Commerce proposed the end of the $300 weekly supplement to the unemployment insurance, arguing that a person earns more unemployed than working full time at $15 an hour.
The day the report was released, President Joseph Biden and several White House officials said less hiring was evidence that the economy still needs support and recalled that in this year’s first quarter 1.5 million jobs were created, while almost 8 million persons are still unemployed. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said there were still limitations, such as health concerns, together with a lack of day care and regular school attendance, which are obstructing the return to a normal labor market.
*International analyst and consultant, former Director ECLAC Washington. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO and other media.