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The 2-minute drill

The Mass. job market weakened in April

Employers added 10,500 jobs last month, half the pace of March.

The Massachusetts labor force barely grew in April.Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

The Massachusetts job market hit a speed bump in April, with the pace of hiring slowing and the labor force barely expanding as the Federal Reserve attempts to cool off the economy.

Employers added 10,500 jobs last month, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development said on Friday. That was down from an upwardly revised gain of 21,500 jobs in March, and below the average of 18,500 new jobs over the previous six months.

The state’s unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percentage point to 4.1 percent, and remained higher than the national rate of 3.6 percent in April.

The Fed is attempting to tame inflation by boosting interest rates. The higher borrowing costs are aimed at reducing the big gap between demand for goods and services and supply. That imbalance has helped push the rate of growth in consumer prices to a 40-year high.

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One consequence of the Fed’s anti-inflation campaign is an expected rise in unemployment. On Tuesday, central bank chairman Jerome Powell conceded that it won’t be easy to bring consumer prices down without hindering hiring. That’s because any drop in consumer spending, which powers about two-thirds of the economy, would likely cause businesses to slow or pause any expansion plans.

“You’d still have a strong labor market if unemployment were to move up a few ticks,” Powell said.

Massachusetts employers had 318,000 open positions posted in March, the latest month for which data are available.

The problem: the state’s labor force, or number of adults with a job or looking for one, edged up by just 600 to 3.76 million. The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 66 percent. There are about 11,000 fewer people in the workforce than in February 2020, just before COVID-19 hit.



Larry Edelman can be reached at larry.edelman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeNewsEd.