U.S. labor snapshot: Payrolls up, jobless rate down

Payrolls increased by their largest monthly amount in more than two years as the unemployment rate in the United States decreased to its lowest level in nearly six years.

According to the latest Department of Labor estimates, nonfarm payrolls grew 288,000 in April and the jobless rate retreated four-tenths of a point to 6.3 percent.

The increase in payrolls was the largest since January 2012. Moreover, initial estimates for job gains in March and February were revised upward a total of 36,000. With the latest gains, U.S. payrolls have increased an average of 190,000 over the past year.

The unemployment rate has dropped to it lowest level since September 2008. 

However, the latest government statistics also include a decrease of nearly 806,000 in the civilian labor force, pulling the labor participation rate down to 62.8 percent.

The number of people counted among the long-term unemployed who’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or more declined 287,000 to 3.5 million. But the number of people working part-time was little changed at 7.5 million.

For April, payroll gains were spread out among a number of industry sectors. Professional and business services added 75,000 jobs, while retail trades added 35,000 positions. Payrolls at food services and drinking places increased 33,000, and construction employment rose 32,000.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.5 hours in April. The average manufacturing workweek was shorter by two-tenths of an hour at 40.8 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private nonfarm payrolls remained unchanged at $24.31. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 1.9 percent.