Wall Street expectations for decent job growth in April were smashed when the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that an estimated 288,000 jobs were added last month. (Wall Street analysts had predicted a more modest 218,000.) The BLS also announced that the unemployment rate plummeted to 6.3 percent, the lowest since prior to the 2008 recession. And in more good news: March's figure was revised upward to 203,000 from 192,000.
Critics may point to a slightly negative note — most of the decrease in the unemployment rate came from people dropping out of the labor force. The labor force participation rate fell to 62.8 percent from 63.2 percent. The recovery has been a long, slow process and this dramatic drop in unemployment isn't quite as positive as it might seem at first glance.
But the bigger point is that stronger-than-expected job creation undermines the argument that the relatively weak growth data for the first quarter released earlier this week shows that the economy isn't really recovering. It boosts the argument that the first quarter slump in growth — and, indeed in job creation — was more of a problem with the weather.
The key point I'd take away is that over the past year, full-time employment is up 2.4 million. Part-time employment is down 255,000. The recovery marches on.