US employment rebounded sharply in April, while unemployment fell to a new seven-year low, signaling continued strength in the labour market following an unexpected slowdown in March.
Employers added 223,000 nonfarm payrolls last month, following a downwardly revised gain of 85,000 in March that was originally reported as 126,000, the Labor Department said on Friday. Economists called for a monthly increase of 224,000 after ADP said on Wednesday private payrolls rose by 169,000.
Job creation averaged 191,000 over the past three months, as job growth in February and March combined were 39,000 lower than previously reported.
Job gains in April occurred in professional and business services, health care and construction. Professional and business services added 62,000 jobs in April, leading all other major groups. Employment in health care and construction each rose by 45,000.
Employment in mining declined by 15,000 in April, with 3,000 job cuts in oil and gas extraction.
The unemployment rate fell to a new seven-year low of 5.4 percent in April from 5.5 percent the previous month. The workforce participation rate – the percentage of working-age Americans employed or actively searching for work – edged up slightly to 62.8 percent from 62.7 percent.
Tepid wage growth continued to underlie the domestic labour market in April. Average hourly earnings increased 0.1 percent in April after rising 0.3 percent the previous month. Compared to April of last year, average earnings were up 2.2 percent.
The Federal Reserve is likely to view Friday’s rebound favourably, as it signals that the labour market remains on firm footing following a bigger than expected slowdown in March. Policymakers are not expected to adjust interest rates until September at the earliest, although some voices within the Fed say a rate increase should not occur until 2016.