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US Job Gains Bloom in Spring

May 2, 2014

Unemployment rate drops to lowest level since September 2008.

The US generated 288,000 jobs in April—the biggest increase in more than two years - and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3%, a strong performance that suggests the economy is accelerating after tepid first-quarter growth. The unemployment rate is the lowest since September 2008. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected an increase of 200,000 nonfarm jobs. Employment gains for March and February were also revised up by a combined 36,000, the Labor Department said Friday. The job growth in April was broad based. Professional jobs surged by 75,000 and retail, bars and restaurants and construction all posted big gains. Average hourly wages, meanwhile, were unchanged at $24.31 and the average workweek rose a tick to 34.5 hours, matching a post-recession high. The government said 203,000 new jobs were created in March, up from a preliminary 192,000, based on newly available data. February's gain was revised to 222,000 from 197,000. So far in 2014 the economy has gained an average of 214,000 jobs a month, well ahead of the 2013 pace of 194,000.

Of course, not everyone is pleased with the numbers. Dissenters note that during the Reagan Years, the "civilian, non-institutional" population; i.e., the total number of Americans eligible for work whether they are part of the labor force or not, increased by 7.4 million, while the labor force increased by 6.7 million. In contrast, between October 2009 and January 2014, the civilian, non-institutional population rose by 10.4 million, yet the economy only added 1.7 million people to the workforce: from 153.8 million to 155.5 million.
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