Payroll gains continue, but jobless rate climbs

Despite continued growth in U.S. payrolls, the unemployment rate rose in April for the first time in five months.

According to the latest Department of Labor estimates, nonfarm payrolls grew 244,000. Moreover, initial estimates for job gains in March and February were revised upward 46,000 to a total of 456,000. Nonetheless, the jobless rate edged up two-tenths in April to 9 percent, the first increase since November.

Payroll and unemployment rate estimates are based on the results of separate surveys of businesses and households, respectively. The situation usually suggests unemployed workers who’d given up on job searches have re-entered the work force. But the labor participation rate held steady in April.

Job gains were spread out among industry sectors with private sector payrolls increasing by 268,000, the largest monthly gain since Februry 2006.

Retail trades employment rose a net 57,000, while professional and business services added 51,000 positions. Payrolls rose 46,000 in leisure and hospitality, 37,000 in health care, 29,000 in manufacturing, 11,000 in mining and 5,000 in construction. State and local government payrolls continued to decline.

The average workweek for employees on nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.3 hours. The average manufacturing workweek was unchanged at 40.4 hours.

The average hourly earnings of employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose 3 cents to $22.95. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 1.9 percent.