US and Canada

US firms add 223,000 jobs in April

Job seekers in US Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The US jobless rate fell to a seven-year low in April.

Employers in the US created 223,000 new jobs in April, a much larger increase than the month before.

At the same time, the US Department of Labor said the unemployment rate dropped to a seven-year low of 5.4%, down from 5.5% in March. Big job gains in the service sector helped to offset weakness in mining,

Investors welcomed the report, sending shares broadly higher on Wall Street.

Many see the report as a sign of solid strength in the economy.

April rebound

The total was a big improvement on March's payroll figures, which were revised to show a gain of just 85,000 jobs.

Experts blamed such factors as the exceptionally cold winter in the north-east of the country for weighing on hiring in March.

April's report also showed gains in employees' wages, with average hourly earnings up 2.2% from the same period last year.

That was a smaller rise than many market watchers expected.

However, it could provide a boost to US consumer spending, a key driver of the US economy.

Fed watch

Investors are paying close attention to all figures to check that the US recovery is maintaining momentum.

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates later this year if the economy continues to improve. Benchmark lending rates are currently close to zero.

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