5 May 2012

New US job numbers down

7:00 am on 5 May 2012

The US economy created 115,000 jobs during April, down on the previous month.

However, the Labor Department said the unemployment rate fell slightly to 8.1% from 8.2% in March.

Employment has been rising for the past eight months, but the jobless rate has been stuck above 8% since early 2009.

The weak report pushed shares lower in the United States and Europe with the Dow Jones index falling 150 points, or 1.2%, to 13,056.

The Nasdaq also fell 1.9%, while markets in London, Paris and Frankfurt closed almost 2% lower.

The BBC reports jobs were created in the business services, retail and healthcare sectors in April, but were lost in transport.

The Labor Department said the number of long-term unemployed was "little changed at 5.1 million".

The unemployment rate hit a three-year low, but part of the reason for the fall was a drop in the number of people looking for work, which reduced the size of the workforce.

The US had two consecutive months of robust jobs growth in January and February, with increases of well over 200,000 jobs in both months.

But the past two months have seen a sharp fall in job creation, with 154,000 jobs added in March, a figure revised up from 120,000.