Job Growth Regains Steam, Keeping Fed Rate Hike on Track


By Lucia Mutikani

U.S. job growth rebounded last month and the unemployment rate dropped to a near seven-year low of 5.4 percent, signs of a pick-up in economic momentum that could keep the Federal Reserve on track to hike interest rates this year.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 223,000 as gains in services sector jobs offset weakness in mining, the Labor Department said on Friday. The one-tenth of a percentage point decline in the unemployment rate to its lowest level since May 2008 came even as more people piled into the labor market.

The report, which showed steady but tepid gains in hourly earnings, suggested underlying strength in the economy at the start of the second quarter after a bad stumble in the first three months of the year.