Job growth rebounded last month, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent, the lowest level in nearly 7 years. Fred Katayama reports.
Job growth gained steam last month, a sign of a spring bounceback for the economy after a weak winter. The U.S. economy added 223,000 jobs in April. That's a big gain over March. The unemployment rate ticked down to 5.4 percent. That's the lowest level in nearly seven years, and it's very close to the range that Fed officials consider full employment. The job gains were broad-based, led by services, especially business services and healthcare. Construction added a lot of jobs as the weather got better. But mining - hit by weakness in the oil and gas sector - shed jobs for the fourth straight month. Another positive sign: wage growth accelerated, rising 2.2 percent over the past year, although it remains tepid. That could bode well for consumer spending. On the downside: Fewer jobs were added in Feburary and March than originally reported, and the share of Americans looking for jobs remained low. The headline numbers were in line with expectations. Some economists say they indicate that the Fed is likely to hold off on raising interest rates for at least a few more months. Wells Fargo chief economist John Silvia: SOUNDBITE: JOHN SILVIA, CHIEF ECONOMIST, WELLS FARGO (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It suggests that we're going to stay probably with the September movement interest rates. But the report really, I think, solidifies the views that the first quarter GDP was truly an outlier and that we're back to basically trend to growth of about two and a quarter (percent), two and a half, for the US economy and so the Fed has little bit of time here to watch the numbers develop. But September seems to be the deadline." Fed officials next meet in mid June.