Economists predicted that today’s release of the monthly Employment Situation Summary would show gains of 218,000 jobs in April– more than previous months, but far short of the actual 288,000 reported by the Labor Department. Unemployment fell to 6.3 percent, the lowest since September 2008.
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Bart van Ark, chief economist at the Conference Board tells The Los Angeles Times that some of the economy’s sudden growth is catch-up from the winter slowdown.
“But that is only one part of the story,” he says. “Indeed, the more important part is that the economy has been gathering strength for some time.”
Payroll processing company ADP released its employment report on Wednesday, and showed an addition of 220,000 jobs.
Not all the news was good, however.
“The part that is a little less positive is this apparently wonderful story on the unemployment rate gong to 6.3 percent from 6.7 percent,” said Dan North, chief economist at Euler Hermes North America, in a call with Forbes. “If you look at the changes in the labor force there are 700,000 more unemployed, in other words the labor force shrunk because more people left.”
In addition, average hourly wages were flat for April, at $24.31 per hour. The PayScale Index showed a 0.5 percent growth in wages for the first quarter of 2014, and predicts a 0.8 percent growth for the second quarter. Real wages — the value of earnings, when inflation is taken into account — are down 7.7 percent since 2006.
The Labor Department reports that “employment growth was widespread, led by gains in professional and business services [75,000 jobs], retail trade [35,000 jobs], food services and drinking places [33,000 jobs], and construction [32,000 jobs].”
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