The U.S. unemployment rate was little changed in April, at 8.1% versus 8.2% in March, as the economy gained only 115,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday.
The anemic April report suggests that economic growth is slowing compared with earlier this year, when job growth was reported at twice that rate. Analysts had expected jobs growth of 160,000 last month, while the consensus for the unemployment rate was for no change.
Also barely moving the needle were the number of unemployed Americans, 12.5 million, and the number of long-term unemployed, 5.1 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ April jobs release. A total of 342,000 people left the labor force.
The U.S. stock markets were lower in midmorning trading. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 100 points, or 0.75%, at 13,107. The S&P 500 was down 13.36 points, or 0.96%, at 1,378. The Nasdaq index was down 41.46 points, or 1.37%, at 2983.
“Disappointing, but not such a shock after ADP, whose 119,000 private job number was close to the official 130,000,” wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist with High Frequency Economics, Valhalla, N.Y., in a note, referring to the giant paycheck processor’s estimates, which are released before the federal jobs numbers.