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U.S. Economy Gains 160,000 Jobs In April; Unemployment Rate Holds Steady

The U.S. economy added 160,000 jobs in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its monthly report. That's significantly fewer than analysts had projected.

The unemployment rate last month held steady at 5 percent, Friday's report says.

As NPR's Chris Arnold told our Newscast unit ahead of the release: "Analysts are predicting a gain of about 200,000 jobs for April. The economy's been averaging some 250,000 more jobs a month over the past 6 months."

The disappointing numbers are likely a result of tepid growth. NPR's John Ydstie says, "A slowdown in economic growth in the first three months of the year appears to have cooled the urge to add workers at many businesses."

Today's report showed the weakest job gains since September, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Labor Department also says the workforce participation rate — or the share of people who are employed or actively seeking work — fell to 62.8 percent last month from 63 percent in March.

Professional and business services, health care and financial activities showed the strongest job growth, while the mining industry lost some 7,000 jobs. John adds that the "goods-producing sector has lagged partly due to weak exports and a strong dollar."

But the jobs news is looking positive for one group in particular: new college graduates. As WSHU's Charles Lane tells Morning Edition, prospects may be better for new grads than they've looked in a decade.

Average hourly earnings for private sector workers increased by 8 cents last month, to $25.53. They rose by 7 cents in March.

The White House said in a statementthat Friday's numbers show the economy is "well above the pace necessary to maintain a low and stable unemployment rate." Noting that this extends "the longest streak of private-sector job growth on record," it adds that there's more to be done "to ensure that the benefits of the recovery are broadly shared."

The BLS report revised February's gains downward, to 233,000 from 245,000. March's gains were also revised downward, to 208,000 from 215,000. In total, that's 19,000 fewer jobs than initially reported.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.
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