The U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell to 4.4 percent — the lowest it has been since May 2007 — the Labor Department reported today.
The government said job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, financial activities and mining. Average hourly earnings rose seven cents, or 0.3 percent, in April. They had increased 2.6 percent in March.
Bloomberg said the performance reveals that the labor market is still healthy, a trend that should help boost consumer spending. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for an increase of 190,000 jobs.
“Labor market conditions remain robust and continue to tighten,” Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies LLC in New York, told Bloomberg. “This data will keep the Fed on track for a preferred 2017 normalization timeline of rate hikes in June and September and the first step toward balance-sheet normalization in December.”
The government revised its job figures for February up from a gain of 219,000 to a new total of 232,000; the change for March was revised downward from a gain of 98,000 to 79,000. With those revisions, the gains in February and March combined were 6,000 lower than previously reported.
The government also said the number of long-term unemployed — those who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more — was essentially unchanged at 1.6 million in April and accounted for 22.6 percent of the unemployed.
The number of people employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) declined by 281,000, to 5.3 million in April. Those people, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time jobs.
In April 1.5 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, which was down by 181,000 from a year earlier. The data are not seasonally adjusted.
The government said those people were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job at some time during the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks that preceded the survey.