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.

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%)

--Email: jplocek@mni-news.com

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