The Labor Department's April employment report, released Friday, exceeded expectations, adding 244,000 jobs, 268,000 in the private sector. The unemployment rate, however, moved up from 8.8% to 9%.
Wall Street was expecting a net gain of 188,000 jobs and a flat unemployment rate of 8.8%. While the overall job numbers were considered positive, particularly the increase in private-sector employment, the increase in the unemployment rate was a surprise. The two metrics are derived from separate surveys, with the jobs numbers coming from payroll records and the unemployment rate from a survey of households.
The estimate for March job gains was revised upward to 221,000 from the previously reported 216,000.
Total payroll employment has grown by 1.8 million since a recent low in February 2010. Private sector employment has increased by 2.1 million over the same period.
The number of long-term unemployed (27 weeks and over) declined by 283,000 to 5.8 million. The civilian labor force participation rate was 64.2 percent for the fourth consecutive month. The employment-population ratio, at 58.4 percent, changed little in April.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (involuntary part-time workers) was little changed over the month at 8.6 million.An estimated 2.5 million persons, not seasonally adjusted, were marginally attached to the labor force, about the same as a year earlier.
Among major categories, ratail added 57,000 jobs, professional and business services added 51,000, health care was up by 37,000, leisure and hospitality rose by 46,000 and manufacturing posted an increase of 29,000.
The construction category gained 5,000 jobs from March to 5.56 million, seasonally adjusted, on a 12.1% gain in the "heavy and civil engineering construction category" that was nearly wiped out by losses in all other construction categories. Residential construction employment was down 2.1% to 582,700 jobs.
Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 3 cents, or 0.1%, to $22.95.