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U.S. unemployment at 7.5 percent; lowest in five years

May 3, 2013 at 9:33 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, May 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. April unemployment rate dipped from 7.6 percent to 7.5 -- the lowest figure in five years -- with 165,000 jobs added, the Labor Department said Friday.

The figures beat expectations.

Economists had predicted the unemployment rate would remain unchanged and that 145,000 jobs would be added.

The rate has dropped 0.4 percentage points since January and the number of unemployed people has decreased by 673,000 since the first of the year -- to 11.7 million.

The department gave this breakdown of the unemployed: blacks 13.2 percent, Hispanics 9 percent, whites 6.7 percent, Asians 5.1 percent.

The number of people unemployed for 27 weeks or more -- defined as long-term unemployment -- fell by 258,000 to 4.4 million in April, an indication that many people gave up finding work. Long-term unemployment dropped from 39.6 percent of all unemployed workers to 37.4 percent in April.

The department said the number of people working part-time involuntarily, usually because their hours at work were cut back or they could not find full-time work, rose by 278,000 to 7.9 million in April "largely offsetting a decrease in March."

In addition, 2.3 million people in April were counted as marginally attached to the workforce, which is defined as unemployed people who have looked for work in the past year but not in the past four weeks.

Professional and business service jobs grew by 73,000 in April. Leisure and hospitality gained 38,000, retail added 29,000 and healthcare added 19,000.

Wages rose by 4 cents per hour on average to $23.87. In the past 12 months, wages have risen 1.9 percent, or by 45 cents per hour, on average, the department said.

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