US jobs data show some scars from recession finally healing

The Boston Globe | By Christopher S. Rugaber
May 5, 2017

WASHINGTON — A burst of hiring in April provided reassurance for the US economy after a slow start to the year: Job growth returned to a healthy pace. Unemployment hit a decade low. And the number of part-time workers who want full-time jobs reached its lowest point in nine years.

Employers last month added 211,000 jobs, more than double the weak showing in March, the Labor Department said Friday. And the unemployment rate dipped to 4.4 percent from 4.5 percent in March.

Taken as a whole, the April jobs report suggested that American businesses are confident enough in their outlook for customer demand to keep adding jobs briskly despite a slump

in the January-March quarter when the economy barely grew.

The jobs report ‘‘does increase our confidence that the soft patch in the first quarter is over,’’ Michael Gapen, an economist at Barclays Capital, said in an e-mail to clients.

The gradual shift in hiring from part-time to full-time work is an encouraging one. It suggests that many businesses are meeting rising customer demand by expanding some employees’ hours. During much of the economic recovery, the number of part-timers remained unusually high — one reason why steady job growth didn’t produce sharp gains in pay or consumer spending.

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