The U.S. economy created 274,000 jobs in April, well up from 146,000 in March, the government said in an eagerly awaited report Friday. The "non-farms payroll" report was far in excess of Wall Street's expectations for 175,000 new jobs. The March figure was revised sharply higher from 110,000 given initially by the Labor Department. February was also changed to show an increase of 300,000, against 243,000 before.
The April figures represent an unemployment rate of 5.2%, in line with economists' forecasts. Economists estimate that the U.S. economy needs to generate a minimum of 150,000 new jobs a month just to keep pace with natural population growth.
The report is welcome news coming after other indicators pointed to flagging growth. Solid job creation is seen as essential if consumer spending, the motor of the economy, is to remain healthy.
Leisure activities saw an increase in jobs by 58,000 while professional services added 36,000. Construction, another key benchmark of economic resilience, posted an extra 47,000 jobs in the month. Industry was the sole sector to shed staff, losing 6,000 posts in April.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005