The American jobs machine beat expectations in April, adding 165,000 jobs, as the unemployment rate dipped to a four-year low of 7.5 percent, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting a gain of 140,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, according to the median of 90 forecasts.
Analysts at Capital Economics said the report “will go a long ways towards soothing fears of another spring slowdown.”
The drop in the unemployment rate was impressive because it happened even though more people entered the labor force. The government said that according to its survey of households, the labor force grew by 210,000, but the number of employed grew by 293,000. (The payroll gain of 165,000 is derived from a separate survey of employers.)
In another sign of strength, the government added 114,000 to its estimate of jobs gains in the previous two months, February and March.
The report also said:
*People unemployed more than half a year accounted for 37.4 percent of the jobless, down 2.2 percentage points from March.
*The employment-to-population ratio was 58.6 percent, showing little movement over the past year.
*Health care added 19,000, construction, manufacturing, and government were little changed, professional and business services added 73,000, and retail lost 24,000.
*Average hourly earnings for employees on non-farm payrolls rose 4 cents to $23.87.
*The average workweek for those employees declined to 34.4 hours, down 0.2 hour from March.