WASHINGTON (AP) — Rebounding from a dismal start to the year, the U.S. economy added 223,000 jobs in April, a solid gain that suggested that employers are helping fuel a durable if subpar recovery.
The job growth helped lower the unemployment rate to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in March, the Labor Department said Friday. That is the lowest rate since May 2008, six months into the Great Recession.
The figures provided some reassurance that the economy is recovering from a harsh winter and other temporary headwinds that likely caused it to shrink in the first three months of the year. Yet the bounce back appears to be falling short of hopes that growth would finally accelerate in 2015 and top 3 percent for the first time in a decade.
Most analysts foresee the economy growing about 2.5 percent this year, similar to the modest expansion typical of much of the 6-year-old recovery.
In its report Friday, the government revised sharply down its estimate of March’s job gain to 85,000 from 126,000. In the past three months, employers have added 191,000 positions, a decent total but well below last year’s average of 260,000.
“Job growth is going from great to good,” said Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan Chase.