New employment figures released by the U.S. Labor Department today offer a surprisingly upbeat view of the economy after a string of weaker jobs reports.
The economy added 165,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate fell slightly to 7.5 percent -- a four-year low.
More notably, revisions to preliminary data for prior months signaled a stronger labor market than previously projected. Updated figures for March indicated nonfarm payrolls added 50,000 more jobs than prior estimates. Similarly, February’s job growth was revised from 268,000 up to 332,000 -- the largest monthly gain since May 2010.
Still, the recovery remains slow given its current pace. The Labor Department reports monthly job growth averaged 169,000 over the past 12 months.
For April, professional and business services employment recorded the largest employment gains of any industry -- up 73,000 for the month. The food services and accommodation sector was another bright spot in the report, adding an estimated 45,100 jobs.
State and local government employment has changed little in recent months. State governments lost 1,000 jobs in April after employment estimates for February and March were revised up. Meanwhile, local government payrolls declined by 2,000 last month, while March estimates were revised down from previous estimates.
Both the labor force participation rate (down slightly so far this year) and employment-to-population ratio held steady last month.
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