April unemployment rate hits five-year low

The U.S. labor market continued its slow recovery in April as the national unemployment rate fell to the lowest level recorded since 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports.

The economy added 165,000 new jobs in April, driving the national jobless rate down to 7.5 percent, a slight decline from the 7.6 percent rate posted in March. The April jobs figures greatly exceeded analysts expectations and assuaged concerns over a disappointing March figure. Further, government analysts issued upward revisions for new jobs created in February and March. New jobs added in February were upwardly revised to 332,000 from the initial report of 268,000. For March, new private-sector jobs were revised up to 138,000 from a low 88,000.

The BLS report also provided a break-down of jobs added by industry, and reports that the professional and business industry – which includes accounts and finance jobs –  added 73,000 new positions in April. Over the past 12 months, this industry has added approximately 587,000 new jobs, representing the sector that has experienced the most significant job gains.

“With an increase of 165,000 jobs in April, and following the significant upward revisions for February and March, the job market looks better than expected despite the sequester or issues like the rising cost of providing health care benefits,” the Conference Board said of the BLS report.

While government officials report that there is still tremendous progress to be made in the economy, the overall number of unemployed Americans continues to decline, falling 83,000 to 11.5 million individuals. Further, the number of long-term unemployed individuals – defined as those without a job for 27 weeks or more – also fell by 258,000, dropping to a total of 4.4 million people. Those facing chronic unemployment have caused significant anxiety for economists and analysts, primarily as the chances of securing a job decline the longer an individual is out of work. However, the recent improvements being made coupled with rising consumer confidence in the economy has led analysts to make more positive projections about future jobless figures and economic growth.