Positive April Jobs Report Blows Past Expectations

The April jobs report shows a labor market on the mend. Employers added 288,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent, partly because of a decline in the size of the labor force.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

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And I'm Robert Siegel. U.S. employers were in a hiring mood in April. That's the takeaway from the government's monthly jobs report released today. It shows 288,000 jobs added to payrolls. That's the biggest monthly job growth in nearly two and a half years. NPR's John Ydstie has more on the report, which also included a big drop in the unemployment rate.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: Today's jobs data show the weather concerns that plagued the economy this winter are behind us, says Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust.

CARL TANNENBAUM: Hiring momentum has clearly picked up. Since we had weather-related interruptions early this year, the payrolls have been growing more rapidly and there is beginning to be a rotation away from part-time hiring to full-time hiring.

YDSTIE: That's a good sign. Another good sign is that hiring was solid across most sectors of the economy, from professional services to construction. However, the big drop in the unemployment rate to 6.3 percent turns out to be not as positive as it first appears. Tannenbaum says that's because it was due largely to a decline in the number of people participating in the labor market, possibly because they still believe jobs are too hard to come by.

TANNENBAUM: It was a little disappointing to see labor force participation decline after rising for four consecutive months.

YDSTIE: But economists caution that changes in participation should be taken with a grain of salt because the survey that number comes from is quite small can be volatile. Another positive, says Tannenbaum, was a drop of 287,000 in the number of long-term unemployed.

TANNENBAUM: But it remains at a very high percentage of the overall unemployed. It is likely that it will take more than Fed policy in order to get the transition to new opportunities complete for those people.

YDSTIE: Tannenbaum suggests more job training and incentives for businesses to hire the long-term unemployed. He thinks today's jobs report is unlikely to prompt any changes in Fed policy. John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington.

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