The U.S. economy showed again that the long recovery from the pandemic will not be smooth.
Falling far short of estimates, the country gained only 266,000 jobs in April after projections indicated a number exceeding 1 million.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls advancing by 978,000 jobs.
In the most recent monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment report, released on Friday, the jobless rate rose from 6 percent to 6.1 percent.
By comparison, the number hit 14.8 percent 13 months ago.
The Friday report scuttled widespread optimism that the reopenings, coupled with an increasing number of vaccinations, would spur seven-figure growth in job creation.
“This might be one of the most disappointing jobs reports of all time,” said Nick Bunker, economic research director at Indeed Hiring Lab in an NBC News story.
“The labor market needs to gain 8.2 million jobs to put us back where we were pre-pandemic, not accounting for the jobs that would have been created if the pandemic never happened. Every month job gains don’t accelerate puts us further behind.”
The number is further disappointing given that the economy grew by 770,000 jobs in March.
In scrambling to explain the numbers, many analysts pointed to a 6.4 percent annualized growth in the first quarter that has put a crunch on the supply chain for labor and raw materials.
The continuation of the enhanced unemployment checks, too, is seen as a hurdle. But a great majority will run out of those benefits in September.
“This is a big miss that changes how we think about the recovery,” economist Justin Wolfers tweeted.
On Wall Street, however, the news was well-received as investors now account for a Fed that continues to be motivated to push the economy forward. The Dow was up $157 as of 12:30 p.m. ET Friday.