The unemployment rate fell a tenth of a percentage point to 7.5 percent, the lowest rate in five years, as employers added 165,000 jobs in April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Index above 15,000 points.
Employment increased in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, retail trade, and health care. The BLS also revised upward the employment numbers for February and March, with the change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February revised from a gain of 268,000 jobs to 332,000, and the change for March revised from 88,000 to 138,000 jobs added. With these revisions, employment gains in February and March combined were 114,000 higher than previously reported by the BLS.
The unemployment rate, at 7.5 percent, has declined by 0.4 percentage point since January, the BLS noted. The number of unemployed persons, at 11.7 million, was little changed over the month, but unemployment has decreased by 673,000 since January.
The professional and business services sector added 73,000 jobs in April and has added 587,000 jobs over the past year. In April, employment increased in temporary help services by 31,000 jobs, professional and technical services by 23,000 jobs, and management of companies by 7,000 jobs.
The White House was encouraged by the job gains. “While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression,” wrote Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, in a blog post. “It is critical that we remain focused on pursuing policies to speed job creation and expand the middle class, as we continue to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007.”
House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., had a more measured response to the job numbers and urged tax reform to spur the economy. "The fact that an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent is better than expected says everything about just how weak our economy continues to be,” he said in a statement. “For the good of the American people, we must find a way to strengthen this economy and unleash robust economic growth—not simply growth that beats low expectations. Tax reform that cleans up the tax code and closes wasteful loopholes and lowers tax rates will help both families and employers. Instead of spending time and money trying to comply with the tax code, families will have more control over their lives and employers will have more opportunities to create more jobs and provide higher wages for American workers. The Ways and Means Committee will continue to pursue this important goal, and, in doing so, work to revive our economy and job market that isn’t picking up steam.”
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