Jobless Rate Falls to 5-Year Low, Helped By Discouraged Workers

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The headline numbers from the Department of Labor’s April Employment Situation Report, released Friday, are staggering, beating economists’ expectations handily. Last month, the U.S. economy created 288,000 jobs, pushing the unemployment rate down 0.4 percentage points to 6.3 percent, the lowest in more than five years. The last time U.S. employers added more jobs was in January 2012.

Last month’s “gains were widespread, led by job growth in professional and business services, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and construction,” the report said. Additionally, the Labor Department’s economists upwardly revised March’s job growth from 192,000 to 203,000 — an important improvement, given how much anxiety the first quarter’s anemic gross domestic product growth spawned. With that adjustment, the economy has added an average of about 214,000 positions per month so far in 2014.

Economists had expected U.S. employers to add just 215,000 new jobs and for the unemployment rate to drop to just 6.6 percent. More specifically, the private sector added 273,000 net new jobs in April, while the government added 15,000. With warm weather returning, the construction sector regained momentum, acting as one of the largest job creators last month and adding 32,000 new positions that were concentrated in heavy and civil engineering and residential building.

Over the past year, that industry has hired 189,000 workers, the majority of which were added in the past six months. The professional and business services industry was a strong point, as well, adding 75,000 net jobs, while retailers and bars and restaurants each expanded payrolls by more than 30,000 jobs; the healthcare industry gained 19,000 positions.

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