Employment Rises: Is Economy Slowing Or Not

Talk about a confusing week.  Lower ADP Payroll growth than expected, rising jobless claims and slower service sector growth had the markets talking about a slow, slow economy.  Then the employment report exceeded expectations.  Where lies the truth?  Is the economy slowing or is the recovery humming along?  The markets have been very volatile while contemplating this very question — including commodities prices.  From the Associated Press….

U.S. employers added many more jobs than expected last month. Non-farm payrolls increased by 244,000 in April, according to the Labor Department’s monthly report, released this morning. Economists had been predicting a more modest gain of about 185,000.

The gains were all from the private-sector, which added 268,000 positions. Public-sector jobs decreased by 24,000, amid widespread state and local budget cuts. Manufacturing continued its recent strong performance, adding 29,000 jobs, while retail added more than 57,000. March job growth was revised upward by 5000, to 221,000.

The encouraging numbers come after a recent spate of far less positive economic news. Last week, a government report found that the economy grew by just 1.8 percent in the first quarter of this year. And yesterday, we learned that initial claims for jobless benefits spiked sharply last week to 474,000.

And despite the better-than-expected job growth, it was still barely enough to absorb the growth in the work force, as more workers who’d been facing long-term unemployment appeared to resume the active search for work. Indeed, the unemployment rate ticked up slightly, to 9 percent from 8.8 percent

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