Unemployment Rate Lowest Since May 2008

The U.S. Labor Department reported employers’ payrolls nationwide grew by 223,000 people in April, while the unemployment rate dropped slightly from 5.5% the previous month to 5.4%, the lowest rate since May 2008.

Highlights from the report included:

With 223,000 jobs added in April, private-sector employment has grown for 62 consecutive months — the longest streak on record — to the tune of 12.3 million jobs over that time.

Employment improved in most sectors in April, including construction, manufacturing, government, financial, education, health services, hospitality, and retail.

The Labor Department also revised March’s payroll numbers downward to 85,000 – making March’s relatively poor showing of 126,000 jobs even worse.

According to the Labor Department report, April saw declines in mining, including gas extraction, and in support activities related to mining as oil prices fell.

More than 8.5 million people were unemployed in April, down slightly from March, with 2.5 million of them unemployed for more than six months.

A year ago, in April, the economy finally generated enough jobs to catch up to payroll employment levels at the start of the recession, in December 2007. And the jobless rate has declined sharply from 6.2% in April 2014.

But the economy has yet to add enough jobs to obliterate the deficit. That’s because each month, the economy has to add about 100,000 jobs just to keep up with population growth.

It has been 89 months since the recession began, and in that time, an additional 8.9 million jobs would have been needed to break even. As of April, a deficit of 5.9 million jobs remained.

“Wages continue to be the unfinished business of the recovery,” U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said in a statement that touted economic progress. “Wage growth has been picking up, with the average hourly wage increasing by 2.2% over the last year,” Perez said. “But too many working people are still earning poverty wages.”

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