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U.S. payrolls surge; Jobless rate hits 5-1/2 year low, 6.3%, adding 288,000 jobs

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that total nonfarm payroll (NFP) employment rose by 288,000, and the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent, in the month of April. Employment gains were widespread, led by job growth in professional and business services, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and construction.

Most important bit of news in the jobs report, Marketwatch reported, is that "The U.S. labor-force participation rate sank to 62.8% in April from 63.2% in March to match a 35-year low.

The commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Erica Groshen, said: "Our analysis of the household survey suggests the labor force decline was mostly due to fewer people entering the labor force than usual, rather than more people exiting the labor force."

In April, the number of unemployed persons, at 9.8 million, decreased by 733,000. Both measures had shown little movement over the prior 4 months. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 1.2 percentage points and 1.9 million, respectively.

Among the major worker groups, unemployment rates declined in April for adult men (5.9 percent), adult women (5.7 percent), teenagers (19.1 percent), whites (5.3 percent), blacks (11.6 percent), and Hispanics (7.3 percent). The jobless rate for Asians was 5.7 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed over the year.

While the stock market did not react either to the upside or downside today, this past Wednesday, The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA +0.28% closed at a record level after rising 45.47 points, or 0.3% to 16,580.84, reported Bloomberg today. The so-called "Obama stock market rally" continues it spectacular climb, from the ashes of a crashing economy and a crashing stock market. The Dow bottomed on March 6, 2009, when the DJIA hit a market low of 6,443.27.

Judging from the reaction of Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, the White House was indeed celebrating. Furman issued a statement today on the employment situation in April. "Employment growth was solid in April, as businesses added jobs for the 50th consecutive month, and the unemployment rate fell," said Furman.

"The President continues to emphasize that more can and should be done to support the recovery, including acting on his own executive authority to expand economic opportunity, as well as pushing Congress for additional investments in infrastructure, education and research, an increase in the minimum wage, and a reinstatement of extended unemployment insurance benefits," said Furman.

Furman urged the Congress to "extend unemployment benefits into 2014, because the economy has already incurred the loss of 80,000 jobs so far this year." Furman warned "Failure to reinstate extended unemployment insurance benefits is expected to cost another 160,000 jobs over the balance of the year." The private sector has added 9.2 million jobs over 50 straight months of job growth, said Furman.

Furman pointed out "In this regard, the actual 288,000 jobs added were 32 percent higher than the consensus forecast of 218,000 jobs, a substantial prediction error."

One of the highlights was that construction rose by 32,000 in April, its 5th strongest month since March 2010. Over the last four months alone, the construction sector has added 124,000 jobs. Another highlight was manufacturing, which added 12,000 jobs in April, in line with the average monthly gain over the last 50 months, during which time manufacturing employment has risen by 647,000.

Reuters said that one small negative piece of news out of the report, is that average hourly earnings were flat in April. The length of the workweek held steady at 34.5 hours last month after bouncing back in March from its winter-depressed levels.

"The lack of robust wage growth still remains an elusive component in the current expansion," said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors.

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics - April, 2014 employment report

Marketwatch.com

White House - The Employment Situation in April

Reuters - U.S. payrolls surge, jobless rate hits 5-1/2 year low

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