Employment rose by 165,000 jobs in April, according to the monthly economic report released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And unemployment dropped slightly from 7.6 to 7.5 percent—a minimal change, but one marking a steady, .4 percent drop since January. It's the lowest unemployment rate in four years.
Employment increases were seen in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, retail trade and health care, according to the report.
The Labor Department also announced revised and more positive figures for February and March: Employment for February was revised from 268,000 to 332,000 jobs gained and for March from 88,000 to 138,000 jobs gained.
Despite these upward trends, however, the overall job picture in April remained grim with 11.7 million unemployed (4.4 million of whom are long-term unemployed). An increase—by 278,000 to 7.9 million—was also seen in individuals employed part-time because their hours were cut back or they were unable to find full-time employment. And 2.3 million people who had searched for a job in the past 12 months were not included in the labor statistics report because they had recently dropped out of the job market.
The White House as usual championed the positive aspects of this month's report.
But the administration also used this month's figures to pressure Congress to end the sequester—the across-the-board federal spending cuts triggered by a failure to pass a budget.
From Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers:
Now is not the time for Washington to impose self-inflicted wounds on the economy. The Administration continues to urge Congress to replace the sequester with balanced deficit reduction, while working to put in place measures to create middle-class jobs, such as by rebuilding our roads and bridges and promoting American manufacturing. The President will continue to press Congress to act on the measures he called for in his State of the Union address to make America a magnet for good jobs, help workers earn the skills they need to do those jobs, and make sure their hard work leads to a decent living.
The White House has blamed Republicans for allowing the sequester to occur, though many, including House Speaker John Boehner, spoke out against the sequester before it went into effect March 1. Republicans refused to close tax loopholes for the nation's wealthiest, and Democrats, backed by the White House, demanded tax revenues.
Boehner in a statement Friday conceded that there was "some good news" in the latest jobs report. But, he added, "the president's policies still aren't providing the robust economic growth and job creation the American people desperately need."
Boehner stressed the need to grow the economy without increasing the size of government by expanding energy production, controlling spending, simplifying the tax code, "repealing Obamacare and replacing the president's sequester with smarter cuts and reforms," and other actions.
"Republicans will continue to focus on these and more in the months ahead, and will work to unleash our economic potential and expand opportunity for everyone," Boehner said.