The nonfarm payrolls number in the April

employment report

was right in line with expectations but, in a balm for the bond market, which got scorched

yesterday, the pace of average hourly earnings growth was slower than expected, and the unemployment rate ticked up.

The economy generated 234,000 new jobs in April, the

Labor Department

found. Economists surveyed by

Reuters

predicted a gain of 230,000, in line with the average monthly gain over the last 12 months.

Average hourly earnings, however, rose just 0.2%, half as much as expected. The year-on-year pace of earnings growth slipped from 3.6% in March to 3.2%, the slowest pace since March 1996.

The unemployment rate, which in March dropped to a 29-year low of 4.2%, rose to 4.3%.

The fourth major component of the report, the average workweek, lengthened to 34.5 hours from 34.4.

In the wake of the news, the benchmark 30-year Treasury bond, which yesterday saw its yield rise to the highest level in 11 months on comments by

Fed

Chairman

Alan Greenspan

, was lately lower by a quarter- to a half-point, its yield around 5.80%.

A final closely watched component of the report, manufacturing payrolls, experienced another decline, their eighth in a row. A total of 29,000 manufacturing jobs were lost. Because various manufacturing indicators have rebounded in recent months, economists wondered whether factory payrolls might reverse their decline this month, signaling an end to the sector's woes. Economic weakness abroad has sapped demand for U.S. products, causing manufacturing payrolls to shrink in 13 of the last 15 months.