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Economy adds 288,000 jobs; unemployment rate lowest since 2008

Unemployment rate falls to 6.3 percent, below the expected drop to 6.6 percent.
By Ananth Baliga Follow @antbaliga Contact the Author   |   May 2, 2014 at 10:54 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 2 (UPI) -- The U.S. economy added 288,000 jobs in April, taking the unemployment rate to 6.3 percent, the lowest it has been since September 2008.

Americans gained the most jobs and at the fastest pace in the last two years, with April being the best month of job creation since January 2012 and the second best since mid-2009, after the economy emerged from the recession.

Economists polled by Bloomberg had estimated a 218,000 increase in non-farm payrolls, with the unemployment falling only 0.1 percent to 6.6 percent. April's numbers were far better than estimates, suggesting the economy was moving out of its winter rut.

The Labor Department also revised the numbers for February and March, and they were higher than previously estimated. The economy added 203,000 jobs in March, up from the 192,000 initially reported and 222,000 in February, up from 197,000.

But the good news was dampened a little by the drop of 806,000 Americans from the labor force, pushing the labor participation rate down sharply. Also, average hourly earning did not rise.

Construction and retail saw strong growth last month, adding 32,000 and 35,000 jobs respectively. Professional and business services added another 75,000 jobs combined, a count closely followed by economists who consider them a barometer for white-collar activity.

The numbers are sure to boost expectations for growth this quarter, with many economists estimating a 3 percent growth in the U.S. economy. Friday's report offers hope for such estimations.

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