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Economic Report: U.S. gains 428,000 jobs in April, and wages rise again — but labor force shrinks

The numbers: The U.S. added a solid 428,000 new jobs in April, but an acute labor shortage showed little improvement last month and threatens to add to the highest inflation in 40 years.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast 400,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.6%, the government said Friday, leaving it just a few ticks above a 54-year low.

The size of the labor force, meanwhile, shrank in April for the first time in seven months in a sign of how difficult it is for companies to find workers.

As a result, the so-called rate of participation in the labor market dropped to 62.2% from 62.4%. It’s still more than a full percentage point below pre-pandemic levels.

Market Reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-3.12%

and S&P 500
SPX,
-3.56%

were set to open lower in Friday trades.

Stocks gyrated wildly in the past two days as investors sought to figure out whether the U.S. economy is sturdy enough to withstand a rapid increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve.

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