WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The U.S. economy gained 244,000 jobs in April, the biggest increase in almost a year, but the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 9.0%, according to government data.
The payroll data are derived from a survey of about 400,000 business establishments.
“It’s a good report. The payroll numbers are solid,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities. “I think the economy is starting to gain traction.”
In recent trading, U.S. stocks soared. The Dow Jones industrial average (DOW:DJIA) jumped more than 130 points following Thursday’s selloff.
Private sector gainsHiring in the private sector posted the largest increase in five years, with the biggest gain occurring in the retail sector. Retailers hired 57,000 workers last month.
Professional and business services created 51,000 jobs, the leisure and hospitality sector added 46,000 positions and health-care companies hired 37,000 employees. The surging manufacturing sector also increased employment by 29,000.
The biggest decline took place in government, continuing a recent trend, as public-sector jobs fell by 24,000.
Average hourly earnings, meanwhile rose a scant 0.1% to $22.95, while the average workweek was unchanged.
Meager increases in wages are a thorn in the side of the U.S. recovery, especially in light of soaring oil prices and higher food costs. Workers have to spend more on basic necessities, leaving less demand for other goods and services.
Growth in the U.S. economy is likely to be constrained unless wages rise or the price of fuel and food decline, economists say.
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