Economy adds 263K jobs in April, blowing past expectations

The U.S economy added 263,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department reported Friday, blowing past expectations.

The unemployment rate also dropped 0.2 percentage points to 3.6 percent, the lowest jobless rate since 1969, driven in part by a 0.2-point decline in the labor force participation rate to 62.8 percent.

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Economists expected the economy to add roughly 190,000 jobs in April after the economy added an average of 180,000 jobs per month and gross domestic product rose at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2019.

Average hourly earnings have also increased 3.2 percent over the past 12 months.

The strong jobs report is welcome news to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE, who hopes to campaign on a strong economic record in 2020. 

April marks the 103rd consecutive month of employment expansion since July 2009, the beginning of the 118-month recovery from the 2008 recession.

"The economy in April roared ahead, despite trade uncertainty, fading effects of a federal tax cut, and a slowdown in online job postings," wrote Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor. "Today’s jobs report shows the strength and resilience of the U.S. economy despite more than nine years of steady growth.“

The economy added 189,000 jobs in March and 56,000 jobs in February, according to revised estimates released Friday by the Labor Department, which initially reported gains of 197,000 in March and 33,000 in February.

The revisions increase the total number jobs added in those two months to 16,000, bringing the monthly average of jobs gains over the past three months to a strong 169,000.

Industries leading the April hiring surge included professional and business services, construction, health care and social assistance. But manufacturing employment, a major focus for the Trump administration, was little changed for the third consecutive month.

The decline in the labor force participation rate also cuts against long-standing efforts to bring more workers off the sidelines. The employment to population ratio, a broader measure of job market strength, held even at 60.6 percent. 

"As a result, the unemployment rate fell for the 'wrong' reasons — more people leaving the labor force as opposed to getting a job," wrote Elise Gould, senior economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.

And while wage growth continuing to climb, earnings have grown at a much slower pace than the decline in unemployment, which typically drives wages higher.

"The not-so-good news regarding Americans’ personal finances is that with the job market regarded as tight and with some employers unable to find the workers they want, wage growth isn’t significantly accelerating," said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com.

Updated at 9:18 a.m.