WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. employers added 165,000 jobs in April, and hiring was much stronger in the previous two months than the government first estimated. The job increases helped reduce the unemployment rate from 7.6 percent to a four-year low of 7.5 percent.
The report Friday from the Labor Department was a reassuring sign that the U.S. job market is improving despite higher taxes and government spending cuts that took effect this year.
The only sectors of the economy that cut jobs last month were construction and government
The government revised up its estimate of job gains in February and March by a combined 114,000. It now says employers added 332,000 jobs in February and 138,000 in March. The economy has created an average of 208,000 jobs a month from November through April - above the 138,000 added in the previous six months.
An additional 210,000 people started looking for work in April, and many of them found jobs.
Stock futures rose immediately after the jobs report was released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
The unemployment rate has fallen 0.4 percentage point since the start of the year, though it remains high. The Federal Reserve has said it plans to keep short-term interest rates at record lows at least until unemployment falls to 6.5 percent.
A fire overnight at the Labor Department's headquarters shut down the building for most employees. Members of the media were allowed in for the release of the report.