According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), job growth in the United States in April 2014 hit its highest rate in years. A report issued by the DOL noted an increase of 288,000 jobs in April, beating expectations of 210,000 jobs and posting the biggest one-month jobs gain since January 2012. The growth coincided with a drop in unemployment of four-tenths of a percent, although much of that decrease was driven by people leaving the labor market. Labor force participation reached a low not seen since December 2013, with only 62.8 percent of the population either holding a job or searching for one.
Job growth arose across multiple sectors of the economy. Construction added 32,000 jobs while manufacturing added 12,000. Professional and technical services positions increased by over 25,000. And government jobs, driven by increases in local government hiring, grew by 15,000. Analysts responding to the growth noted that it was in line with their expectations for a rebound in the economy after it posted lackluster results during a harsh winter. Alongside the April report, the DOL revised its estimates on hiring in March and February upward by 36,000 jobs.
Despite the growth in hiring, wages have remained slow. Average hourly pay remained flat in April, and wages have been rising just above the rate of inflation at 1.9 percent over the last year, far below what is considered healthy wage growth of 3 to 4 percent annually. However, employees are working more hours than they did during the winter. The length of the workweek remains at 34.5 hours, a jump recorded in March over winter levels.
Economists had noted signs of strength in the economy as spring came around and were pleased to see job growth. Higher consumer spending at shopping malls and on big-ticket purchases like cars was seen in March as incomes grew by more than they had since August 2013. Growth has been noted in manufacturing activity and orders for manufactured goods.