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U.S. Adds 288,000 Jobs in April; Jobless Rate Down to 6.3%

WASHINGTON (MNI) - The U.S. April employment report was unambiguous strong, and it now appears that the bad winter weather did not hold back a surge in hiring.

The strong April employment data showed payrolls up 288,000, their best showing in more than a year, and February-March jobs revisions totaling +36,000.

The unemployment rate plummeted 0.4 point to 6.3%, ordinarily also a showing of strength. But the decline reflects a drop in the labor force of -806,000. Labor market reentrants fell 417,000 and new entrants fell 126,000. Those with more recent experience apparently fared better.

These metrics resulted in the labor force participation rate falling to 62.8%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said participation "has shown no clear trend" recently and has returned to October's level.

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Therefore we would discount the drop in the unemployment rate as something of a "too-robust" signal.

Hours and earnings advanced nicely, suggesting better production and incomes.

Payroll composition shows relatively broad gains: manufacturing posted +12,000, construction +32,000, retail +34,500, finance +6,000, healthcare +18,700, restaurants +32,600, and local government +17,000.

The biggest remaining question is whether the employment report simply reflects a weather rebound. But we now have three months of strong payrolls, arguing that the U.S. economy is better.

Payrolls/Prior PvtAHE AggHrs Indx UnemplyRate (unrounded)

Apr +288k +3c 100.4 6.3% (6.2752%)

Mar +203/+192k 100.1r 6.7% (6.7120%)

Feb +222/+197k 99.4r 6.7% (6.7163%)


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