Expecting little significant change, analysts must have been pleasantly surprised by today's April Employment Situation report (link opens in PDF) from the Labor Department.
Nonfarm payroll employment bumped up a seasonally adjusted 165,000, pushing the unemployment rate down 0.1 percentage points to 7.5%. Market analysts had expected a 153,000 employment bump with no change in the overall unemployment rate.
After March's unemployment rate improved by 0.1 percentage points due to a shrinking labor force, April's results point to more sustainable gains. The overall labor force increased 210,000, and a 176,000 bump in private payroll met expectations.
The unemployment rate is down 0.4 percentage points since January. Unemployment has decreased by 673,000 since January.
On remuneration, Americans worked less for more in April. The average workweek dropped 12 minutes to 34.4 hours, accompanied by a 0.2% increase in average hourly earnings. Analysts had expected a 0.2% earnings bump, but had predicted the average workweek to remain at 34.6 hours.
On a sector-by-sector basis, professional and business services boosted this month's report with 73,000 new jobs added to the labor market. Food services and drinking places rose by 38,000. Retail trade employment improved 29,000, while heath care added on 19,000.
After an ISM report hinted at bad news for manufacturing earlier this week, slow growth was confirmed by unchanged employment levels in the sector for April.