The Department of Labor released its April employment report (link opens in PDF) today, and things are looking up. After increasing a revised 203,000 for March, total nonfarm payroll employment advanced 288,000 last month, well above the analyst estimate of 215,000.
But employment additions alone don't tell the full story. The unemployment rate fell sharply from 6.7% in March to 6.3% in April, also well below expectations of 6.6%. However, much of the rate decrease came from a sizable 806,000 drop in labor force participation.
In the private sector, professional and business services packed the most employment punch, adding 75,000 jobs. Retailers increased their ranks by 35,000, food services and drinking places added 33,000 jobs, and construction businesses employed an extra 32,000 workers.
Government employment, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, information, and financial activities all "changed little" from March to April, according to the Labor Department.
For those with jobs, April's average workweek (34.5 hours) and hourly earnings ($24.31) remained steady from March levels. Analysts hadn't expected any change in workweek length, but had predicted a 0.2% rise in hourly earnings.