Jobs are plentiful in Massachusetts. The workers are not.

City says 7,000 summer jobs are available for Boston youth ages 14 to 18

But the Labor Department on Friday morning provided fresh evidence that employers here and across the country are growing more cautious amid growing economic uncertainty.

Employers added 236,000 jobs in March, the eighth consecutive month that hiring slowed or remained flat. The unemployment rate has fallen to 3.5 percent.

With employers cutting back on recruitment, Federal Reserve officials are clinging to their Hail Mary hope for a “soft landing” — that is, a return to manageable inflation without millions of workers losing their paychecks.

They don’t want to derail the progress many American workers have made in post-pandemic economic expansion: greater opportunities to join the workforce, Especially in low-income communities, a shorter path to better paying jobs, and increased job security. wages rose, Although not for the many workers when adjusted for inflation.

All of these gains will be at risk if the Fed presses prices too hard and causes a “hard sell,” or a deep recession.

Meanwhile, domestic employers face long-term challenges largely disconnected from Fed policy and the possibility of a recession this year or next.

Employment in Massachusetts has not kept pace with the country in general, in large part because of this The number of workers available to us is shrinking. Three years later, the labor shortage contributed to Massachusetts barely passing its pre-pandemic employment peak while national employment rose 2 percent.

Brunner Stewart, senior research director at UMass Donahue Institute.

The problem is rooted in demographics. There are fewer young workers to replace retiring baby boomers, while the state’s main source of workforce growth — foreign workers — has been suppressed first by COVID and now by tougher US immigration policy.

but Other structural issues threaten to exacerbate matterssaid Stewart.

In an age of remote work, Massachusetts’ allure is fading due to a lack of affordable housing, rising energy and childcare costs, a faltering mass transit system, and exorbitant taxes, which now include surcharges on income exceeding $1 million. until Inform employers that they are adding jobsStewart said, Separate household data Compiled by the Department of Labor show employment has declined in recent months.

He said this difference indicates that many local companies are filling jobs with workers who live outside the country.

Throw in the weather, and it’s no surprise to Boston It landed squarely in the middle of the hot job market pack In a recent ranking of the Wall Street Journal. The top metro areas were the Sunbelt Cities of Nashville, Tenn. Austin, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida.

The labor shortage is not limited to Massachusetts, of course, and we have economic assets that no other states—including rising stars like Florida and Texas—can match: world-class universities and hospitals, thriving biotech and professional services sectors, and a highly educated workforce. .

Furthermore, we will never be among the cheapest places to live or run a business, nor do we have to be prosperous. People leave the state for myriad reasons, not just taxes or T. The same is true of companies when they make decisions about where to hire.

But the country requires a growing workforce to thrive.

Do we have the political will to dismantle the zoning restrictions that prevent new housing? To fund increases in daycare subsidies and early childhood education slots? For coughing up money to fix an MBTA? To make the tax code fairer?

Changes on this scale are necessary to keep the economy—workers and employers alike—moving forward.

There really is no other choice.

Larry Edelman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @employee.