The United States economy added more jobs than expected as the willingness of consumers to spend fostered private sector job growth.
The month of April saw the addition of 244,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday. This follows a gain of 221,000 jobs in March, and 768,000 jobs total since January.
The unemployment rate rose to 9.0 percent in April from 8.8 percent in the previous month, as the household survey found fewer people with jobs than in recent months.
Both incomes and consumer spending increased in March, according to a Commerce Department release on April 29. U.S. labor costs also showed a sharp gain, indicating that those Americans with a job are willing to spend more.
Many of those new jobs were seen in manufacturing and service-providing industries, such as general merchandise store and food service and drinking places jobs.
“Growth has been reflecting the work that was lost,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “Jobs that were lost in the downturn are the ones that are returning now.”
No industry reflects that as much as manufacturing. The overall employment for the sector is down 5.6 million jobs from 2000, but has had six straight months of employment increases, the first time that has occurred since 1998. Manufacturing added 29,000 jobs in April, which follows a 17,000-job gain in March. Analysts had predicted a rise of 20,00 jobs.
But while the increase in manufacturing jobs shows that private sector employers are reinvesting the increase in consumer spending, the quality of jobs available has not yet increased.
“It’s good that manufacturing, an above average wage job, rose,” said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, director of the Center for Employment Policy at the Hudson Institute. “But lower paying jobs rose even more.”
Neither the average workweek nor average hourly earnings, both indicators of the quality of jobs being accepted, increased with any significance. The average workweek remained at 34.3 hours in April, identical to March, and average hourly earnings rose by 3 cents to $22.95, compared to a now revised $22.92 from March.
But despite the fact that many of the economic indicators have pointed in opposite ways in recent months, the continued job growth and growing economy should be perceived as a positive sign.
“Labor market conditions continue to improve at a moderate pace and the strength in services payroll growth is an encouraging sign that job creation is becoming firmly entrenched,” said Michael Gapen, the director of U.S. economic research for Barclays Capital, in a release. “Moderate recoveries are often choppy and it is rare to have all indicators pointing in one direction at the same time.