The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy added 263,000 jobs in April, exceeding expectations that ranged from 190,000 to 217,000, MarketWatch reports. The gains helped reduce the unemployment rate from 3.8 percent to a 49-year low of 3.6 percent, CNBC says. A sharp, 490,000-person drop in labor force participation also contributed to the decrease in unemployment. The average hourly earnings of American workers rose 0.2 percent, to $27.77 an hour, slightly less than expected.
The government revised March's job gains to 189,000, down from an initial report of 196,000. February's gain was adjusted from 33,000 to 56,000. Employment gains firmed up in the last two months after an erratic start this year, with a huge 312,000-job increase in January followed by February's weak gains after the government shutdown.