U.S. job growth significantly undershot forecasts in April, suggesting that difficulty attracting workers is slowing momentum in the labor market and challenging the economic recovery.

Payrolls rose 266,000 from a month earlier, according to a Labor Department report Friday that represented one of the largest downside misses on record. Economists in a Bloomberg survey projected a 1 million hiring surge in April.

The unemployment rate edged up to 6.1%, though the labor-force participation rate also increased.

The report stunned investors as Treasury yields plunged and the dollar turned sharply lower. U.S. stocks rose on expectations that monetary policy will remain conducive to economic growth for a sustained period. The eurodollar market pushed back its pricing for a Federal Reserve rate increase to mid-2023.

The disappointing payrolls print leaves overall employment more than 8 million short of its pre-pandemic level and is consistent with recent comments from company officials highlighting challenges in filling open positions.

“It’s a lot faster to lay off workers than it is to hire them back,” said Sarah House, senior economist at Wells Fargo & Co. “While we are seeing some workers come back into the labor force it just isn’t fast enough.”

While job gains accelerated in leisure and hospitality, employment at temporary-help agencies and transportation and warehousing declined sharply.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said last week the dichotomy between a large number of unfilled positions and millions of unemployed likely reflects a combination of a skills gap, child care obligations and lingering virus fears.

Massive fiscal stimulus including the latest $1.9 trillion package passed by President Joe Biden in March may also be impacting the pace of job growth. Some firms indicate enhanced unemployment benefits and the latest round of pandemic-relief checks are discouraging a return to work even as job openings approach a record.

A sustained period of tepid job gains could support calls for further government spending.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said the data justified why the Fed is continuing to deliver its own stimulus. “Today’s jobs report is just an example of we have a long way to go and let’s not prematurely declare victory,” he said.

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