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Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added a mere 266,000 jobs last month. Forecasters had floated gains close to 1 million, making this the biggest miss, relative to expectations, in decades.

Why it matters: It's a major setback for the hopes of a speedy labor-market recovery alongside America's great reopening.

  • Adding to the pain: Job gains in March were revised lower.

What they're saying: "This is a big miss that changes how we think about the recovery," economist Justin Wolfers tweeted.

A bright spot: The labor force grew significantly, a counterpoint to the narrative that generous unemployment checks are keeping Americans out of the workforce.

  • The unemployment rate ticked higher to 6.1%, but the broadest measure of unemployment fell from 10.7% to 10.4%.

Who liked the report? Markets reacted with elation, pricing in a Fed that continues to press hard on the accelerator for the foreseeable future.

What to watch: Expect President Biden and his economic team to double down on their argument for a $4 trillion-plus infrastructure and social-spending package, which they say can create jobs in everything from construction to clean energy.

  • Republicans will likely argue Biden’s proposed tax hikes will kill what's shaping up to be an uneven recovery, but the administration’s focus will be on getting the spending plans passed — one way or another.

The bottom line: While it’s possible that April’s jobs report might yet be revised upwards, this number proves that economics is not a science and that America’s pandemic recovery is going to be rocky.

Go deeper

S.C. governor orders end to federal COVID-related unemployment benefits

Photo: Micah Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) on Thursday ordered the termination of the state's participation in all federal, pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs.

Driving the news: McMaster cited labor shortages, but some experts say it's the job climate and not unemployment benefits that is determining the pace at which people are returning to work.

May 6, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden's plan to work with — or bail on — the GOP

President Biden, after remarks on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden plans to test Republicans’ appetite to pay for any part of his proposed $4.1 trillion in infrastructure and social spending before deciding whether to pursue one big tax-and-spend package or two smaller ones, Axios has learned.

Driving the news: Biden is wary of boxing himself in, since it would dictate whether he seeks a bipartisan or all-Democratic approach. He told reporters on Wednesday, "I'm willing to compromise. But I'm not willing to not pay for what we're talking about. I'm not willing to deficit-spend."

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
May 6, 2021 - Technology

Two tales of jobs in tech hubs

Expand chart
Data: Indeed; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Jobs are coming back more slowly in America's top tech centers than in other cities — but it's not the tech jobs that are lagging, according to a new analysis from the jobs site Indeed.

What's happening: Pandemic-era remote work is still keeping white-collar workers in tech hubs at home, and that's slowing down the recovery of local shops and restaurants in those communities.