The U.S. economy added 288,000 jobs in April, surpassing expectations with the largest increase since January of 2012, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent, the lowest in 5-1/2 years.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said today that the employment gains were widespread, led by growth in professional and business services, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and construction.
Figures for the previous two months were revised upward to show 36,000 more jobs than the government had previously reported. The unemployment rate fell in April partly because of a decline in the number of unemployed people who re-entered the job market and a drop in the number of new people in the labor force.
The jobless rate was the lowest since September of 2008.
Reuters said the report suggested a sharp rebound in the economy in the early part of the second quarter.
"The economy really has strong underlying fundamentals supporting its growth. Temporary headwinds such as the bad weather can be certainly managed," Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial in Troy, Mich., told the news service.
The government said the number of unemployed people fell by 733,000 in April, to 9.8 million and said that measure and the jobless rate had shown little movement during the previous four months.
The long-term unemployed — people jobless for 27 weeks or more — declined by 287,000 in April, to 3.5 million, and they accounted for 35 percent of the unemployed.
The number of people who were employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 7.5 million in April, the government said. Those people were working part time because their hours had been cut or they were unable to find full-time work.