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The unemployment rate edged up to 6.1% in April as job growth slowed

The nation reported a net gain of 266,000 jobs on payrolls in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the slowest job growth since January and is a fraction of the 770,000 jobs added in March.

The unemployment rate rose from 6% in March to 6.1% last month. The rate, which reflects the number of Americans seeking but unable to find work, may have been impacted by more Americans entering the job market this month. The labor force participation rate increased from 61.5% to 61.7%. The share of unemployed people who were out of work because they started seeking employment for the first time and had yet to land a job grew from 5.1% to 6.3%.

Restaurants and bars drove growth in April.

The leisure and hospitality industry expanded by 331,000 jobs in April. About 187,000 were positions at restaurants and bars, another 73,000 at amusement and gambling businesses, and 54,000 at hotels. Despite the gains, the leisure and hospitality industry remained down by 17% compared to before the pandemic. Restaurants and bars were down by 1.7 million jobs or 14%. Total employment across all industries was down 5%.

Other services — like car maintenance and haircuts, as well as unions, foundations, and associations — added 44,000 jobs. These were largely in maintenance, personal, and laundry services. Positions in local public education grew by 31,000 jobs. Social assistance employment increased by 23,000 jobs, with about 12,000 of them from child day care services.

The largest job loss came from temporary help services, a subset of the professional and business services industry, which shrank by 111,000 jobs in April. Under transportation and warehousing, jobs for delivery people also dropped by 77,000 — though employment is still up by 126,000 positions compared to February of last year.

The unemployment rate for Asian Americans dropped.

While unemployment rates largely remained stable across race and ethnic groups, Asian people reported the largest change in their unemployment rate, dropping from 6% to 5.7%. One component of this may have been a drop in labor force participation among Asian Americans; their labor force participation rate fell from 63% to 62.8%.

Asian Americans reported the lowest unemployment rate of any group through all of 2019. But their unemployment rate was higher than that of white Americans in April, as it has been for most of the pandemic. Black Americans continued to report the highest unemployment rates.

Asian Americans make up 6% of the overall workforce. And while they make up a disproportionate share of workers in high-paying computer, engineering, business, and medical occupations, Asian Americans also account for a large share of people in personal care services — for example, 70% of people working in nail salons.

The drop in their unemployment rate comes as the personal and laundry services sector added 14,000 jobs nationwide last month. Architecture and engineering services added 12,000.

See more data on vaccine progress and other indicators on the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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