U.S. jobs growth surged in April, with 263,000 new positions created. That was well above expectations, and could provide more evidence that the U.S. economy is firing on most cylinders. It looks like stocks might get an early lift from the data after two days of Fed-related struggle.
As job growth accelerated, the unemployment rate dropped to a near 50-year low of 3.6%. You have to go back to December 1969, the time of the second manned moon landing, to see unemployment at levels like this. Meanwhile, wages rose 3.2% year-over-year in April, the same as the previous month, and the ninth-straight month of 3% or better pay growth.
Stocks, which had already been climbing in pre-market trading, appeared to get a new burst of positive sentiment from the data, and were solidly in the green after two-straight days of weakness following the Fed’s meeting and talk of higher inflation. Analysts had been expecting jobs growth of closer to 200,000. Today’s number was up from a revised 189,000 in March, and puts memories of the weak February data farther back in the rear-view mirror.
If you want to find any signs of softness, there were a couple. Manufacturing job growth was flat for the third month in a row, and the labor force participation rate declined slightly from March. But those were relatively minor considerations in a report that arguably showed some real muscle in the economy.
Construction job growth, which had been weak earlier this year and caused some worries, rose a solid 33,000 in April. With most of those gains coming from non-residential activity, maybe it reflects signs of life in business investment, which had been flagging.
This article originally appeared on Forbes