What’s up with the labor market? Probably won’t know until the fall

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By Ann Saphir and Lucia Mutikani

SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON, May 6 (Reuters) – The big mystery with the government report Friday that’s expected to show nearly a million jobs gained for a second month in row won’t be why U.S. employers hired so many, but why they didn’t hire more.

As the economy revs up to meet the rapacious demand of tens of millions of newly vaccinated Americans, employers say they can’t fill their yawning need for labor.

Take Alex Washut. In January he mapped out hiring plans for his two breakfast and lunch eateries in Western Massachusetts and figured he’d need to hire 20 new cooks, servers, dishwashers and other staff by May. He’s doubled wages in some cases but has only managed to hire five; most of the time, he said, job candidates never even show for their interviews.

At the same time, the U.S. economy is down more than 8 million jobs since before the pandemic, and Federal Reserve officials say the true unemployment rate is closer to…

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