Economic growth exceeded expectations in April as the market added 263,000 new jobs and unemployment sank to its lowest level in 49 years, according to Labor Department data released Friday.
The 263,000 new jobs easily surpassed the 217,000 analysts had predicted, while unemployment dropped 0.2 points to 3.6 percent, its lowest level since December 1969.
The average wage grew 0.2 percent, 6 cents, to $27.77 an hour, falling just short of expectations. Average hourly earnings growth held steady at 3.2 percent year over year, while the average work week shrank by a tenth of an hour to 34.4 hours.
The economic expansion is months away from breaking the record for the longest in U.S. history as the economy continues to add jobs despite a labor market close to saturation: The drop in the unemployment rate was aided by the exit of 490,000 workers from the labor force, bringing the labor-force-participation rate down to 62.8 percent.
The biggest gains were seen in professional and business services, which added 76,000 new jobs, construction, which added 33,000 new jobs, health care, which added 27,000 new jobs, and social assistance, which added 26,000 new jobs.
The Labor Department also revised job-gain estimates for the previous two months to 189,000 new jobs in March and 56,000 in February, for a total of 16,000 more new jobs than previously estimated.