News

Unemployment at lowest levels in over 5 years

Unemployment at lowest levels in over 5 years

JOBLESS:Erin Wilson, of Hannaford Bros. supermarket company, left, talks with a job seeker during a job fair Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y. The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims on Thursday, April 24. Photo: Associated Press/Mike Groll

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. job growth increased at its fastest pace in more than two years in April and the unemployment rate dived to a 5-1/2 year low of 6.3 percent, suggesting a sharp rebound in economic activity early in the second quarter.

Nonfarm payrolls surged 288,000 last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. That was the largest gain since January 2012 and beat Wall Street’s expectations for only a 210,000 increase.

The unemployment rate tumbled 0.4 percentage point, touching its lowest level since September 2008. The Labor Department attributed the decline to a drop in the number of unemployed people reentering the labor market as well as a fall in new entrants into the labor force.

The economy stalled in the first quarter, weighed down by an unusually cold and disruptive winter. A slow pace of stock accumulation by businesses, while they work through a glut of goods amassed in the second half of 2013, also undercut growth.

The employment report joins other upbeat data such as consumer spending and industrial production in suggesting the first quarter’s 0.1 percent annual growth pace was an aberration and is not a reflection of the economy’s otherwise sound fundamentals.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday shrugged off the dismal performance. The U.S. central bank, which announced further reductions to the amount of money it is pumping into the economy through monthly bond purchases, said indications were that “growth in economic activity has picked up recently.”

Economists expect second-quarter growth to top a 3 percent pace.

While details of the bigger survey of employers were upbeat, the smaller and volatile household survey from which the unemployment rate is calculated was mixed.

Household employment fell slightly after increasing robustly in the first quarter. The labor force, which also grew during the same period as improving job prospects encouraged some job seekers who had given up the hunt to resume looking for work, declined sharply in April.

The labor force participation rate, or the share of working-age Americans who are employed and unemployed but looking for a job, fell 0.4 percentage point to 62.8 percent. That was the lowest level since last December.

Some of the 1.35 million people who lost their longer-term unemployment benefits at the end of last December could have dropped out the labor force last month.

The participation rate and the persistently high number of Americans out of work for long spells could keep the Fed from lifting interest rates for some time to come.

April job gains were broad based. Government payrolls rose by 15,000. Manufacturing employment increased 12,000. Construction payrolls gained 32,000, but the hiring trend could slow in the months ahead as residential construction loses some steam.

Average hourly earnings were flat in April. The length of the workweek held steady at 34.5 hours in April after bouncing back in March from its winter-depressed levels.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Recent Headlines

in Music

Justin Bieber charged with dangerous driving

Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber drives a quad bike at the beach as he takes a break in a resort in Punta Chame on the outskirts of Panama City in a January 27, 2014 file photo.

Justin Bieber has been charged with dangerous driving and assault following an altercation and collision on Friday.

in Music

Kanye West confronted SNL comedian over MTV VMAs spoof

Kanye West American rapper, songwriter, record producer, film director, entrepreneur, and fashion designer, Kanye West attends the Cannes Lions 2014, 61st International Advertising Festival in Cannes, southern France, Tuesday, June 17, 2014. The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival is a world's meeting place for professionals in the communications industry.

Kanye West has urged SNL's Jay Pharoah not to make light of his hard work after the rapper was spoofed during the MTV Video Music Awards.

in Entertainment

Angelina Jolie debuts wedding dress featuring kids’ artwork

The cover of People magazine, dated 15th September, 2014, featuring the wedding of Angelina Jolie to Brad Pitt.

Angelina Jolie has debuted photos of her surprise nuptials to Brad Pitt, revealing she wore a designer wedding gown featuring artwork by their six children.

in Music

Chris Brown pleads guilty to assault

Singer Chris Brown leaves District of Columbia Superior Court in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, after pleading guilty on a misdemeanor assault. Brown pleaded guilty on Tuesday to hitting a man outside a Washington hotel, an assault that occurred while the singer was on probation for attacking his then-girlfriend Rihanna. Brown pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to time served. He spent two days in a District of Columbia jail in this case.

Chris Brown appeared at a court in Washington, D.C. and admitted beating up a man outside a hotel in the city last year.

in Music

Miley Cyrus defends weed photos

Miley Cyrus performing live on stage on 'The Bangerz Tour' concert at Forum di Assago.

Miley Cyrus has defended her decision to publish pictures of her cannabis habit online, insisting she does not promote drug-taking to kids or feature it in her songs.