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April job growth blooms after harsh March

Economists breathed a sigh of relief with April’s job report. After a disappointing March, which this month’s revisions proved only more disappointing, job growth looks to be back on track. The economy added 223,000 new jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent, a seven-year low.

The Peterson Institute’s Justin Wolfers responded to the news on Twitter:

Our “Solman Scale U7” — which adds part-timers looking for full-time work and “discouraged” workers to the officially unemployed — fell to another all-time low since Making Sen$e began calculating it in 2011: 13.05 percent of the population was un- or underemployed in April.

The biggest job gains came in professional and business services. Average hourly wages, though, remained relatively flat, increasing just 3 cents to $24.87.

With the Fed expected to make a decision on raising interest rates sometime in the coming months, April’s report was closely watched — probably more than other reports, especially given the previous month’s lackluster data and a generally sluggish first quarter of economic growth. The Fed’s policy making body, the Federal Open Market Committee, next convenes in mid-June, when Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to give a press conference after the release of the FOMC’s guidance statement.

All eyes will be on that meeting to see if the Fed goes forward with a June rate hike, or as is more widely expected, delays until September.

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