(USA TODAY) -- Employers added a better-than-expected 165,000 jobs in April,, easing
concerns that payroll growth may be slipping into a sustained midyear
The unemployment rate fell to 7.5% from 7.6%, the Labor Department said Friday. That's the lowest since December 2008.
gains for February and March were revised up by a total 114,000.
February's gains were revised to 332,000 from 268,000 and March's to
138,000 from 88,000. Monthly job growth has averaged 196,000 so far this
year, vs. 183,000 for all of 2012.
April's report exceeded economists' median forecast of 148,000 job gains for last month.
added 176,000 jobs. Federal, state and local governments cut 11,000,
likely reflecting federal deficit-cutting that recently went into
effect. Professional and business services, restaurants and health care
led the private-sector job gains.
O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist of High Frequency Economics says the
surprisingly solid report likely indicates that the anticipated spring
economic slowdown due to federal deficit-cutting could be just a modest
"What spring swoon?" he says. "There really hasn't been much slowing."
estimates monthly job growth could average about 165,000 the next
several months before picking up to 200,000-plus by the fourth quarter.
were some other positive signs in the report. The number of temporary
workers increased by 31,000. The addition of contingent workers
typically augurs stronger permanent hiring.
And the number of Americans out of work at least six months fell by 258,000 to 4.3 million.
there were some possibly worrisome signals. The average workweek fell
to 34.4 hours from 34.6 hours. Employers typically increase existing
workers' hours before adding new staffers and a decline may mean less
future hiring. Many small businesses with around 50 employees may be
limiting the hours of workers to fall below the staffing threshold at
which they need to provide health insurance under the new health reform
Average hourly earnings rose 4 cents to $23.87.
Also, the underemployment rate - a wider gauge of joblessness that
includes people who stopped looking for work and part-time workers who
prefer full-time jobs, as well as the unemployed - rose to 13.9% from
Several economic reports this week appeared to
solidify the view that the economy and job market are mired in a
fourth-straight spring slump. A survey by payroll processor ADP
estimated businesses added just 119,000 jobs last month. Manufacturing
activity in April barely grew, while construction spending fell.
have largely blamed the weakening on across-the-board federal spending
cuts, a recent payroll tax increase and small-business hesitancy to hire
because of coming health care insurance requirements.
number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits for the first
time fell last week by 18,000 to 324,000, Labor said Thursday.
O'Sullivan said that bolstered his view that the recent downturn was
largely due to a mild January and February that pulled forward economic
activity and a colder-than-usual March and April.
professional and business services led job gains, with 73,000. Leisure
and hospitality added 43,000; retailers, 29,000, and health care,
Construction companies cut 6,000 jobs and
manufacturers added none, possibly underscoring the effects of defense
cuts and the economic malaise in Europe.