WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. economy showed last month why it remains the envy of industrialized nations: In the face of tax increases and federal spending cuts, employers added a solid 165,000 jobs in April - and far more in February and March than anyone thought.
The hiring in April drove down the unemployment rate to a four-year low of 7.5 percent and sent a reassuring sign that the U.S. job market is improving.
The economy is benefiting from a resurgent housing market, rising consumer confidence and the Federal Reserve's stimulus actions, which have helped lower borrowing costs and lift the stock market.
In this April 11 photo, people wait in line before the Dr. King Career Fair at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, N.Y.
The stock market soared after the Labor Department issued the April jobs report Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 142 points, or nearly 1 percent, to a record a record 14,973. It briefly broke 15,000 for the first time.
Coming after a poor March jobs report and some recent data showing economic weakness, the April figures helped ease fears that U.S. hiring might be slumping for a fourth straight year.
"Businesses haven't lost confidence yet," said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at the Martin Smith School of Business at California State University. "Consumers are feeling better. The decent employment gains will add to the optimism and help lift future spending."
The Labor Department revised upward its estimate of job gains in February and March by a combined 114,000. It raised its estimate for February job gains from 268,000 to 332,000 and for March from 88,000 to 138,000.
Excluding May 2010, when the figures were skewed by temporary Census hiring, February's gain was the most since November 2005.
The economy has created an average of 208,000 jobs a month from November through April - well above the monthly average of 138,000 for the previous six months.
The stronger job growth suggests that the federal budget cutting "does not mean recession," said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo. "It does not mean a dramatic slowdown."