Presenting a mixed picture of the U.S. economy the April jobs figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) suggested that 2.44 lakh new jobs were added and yet the overall unemployment rate climbed to 9 per cent from 8.8 per cent a month earlier.

While the results suggest an improvement from March's addition of 2.21 lakh jobs they also indicated possible sources of stagnation within state and local government employment. Across the U.S. states have come under increasing pressure from burgeoning budget deficits.

The BLS monthly survey reported, “Employment in both state government and local government continued to trend down, with April losses concentrated in the non-educational components”.

However, the private sector showed a stronger, positive trend with employment in retail trade rising by 57,000. Professional and business services were reported to continue their expansionary trend in April, with an increase of 51,000. Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to increase in April, the BLS said, adding 46,000 jobs in April and 1.51 lakh jobs over the past three months.

Commenting on the results, the Chairman of the White House' Council of Economic Advisers, Austan Goolsbee, sought to strike a positive note saying, “Today's employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 2.68 lakh in April, the strongest monthly growth in five years.” He added that the economy had created 2.1 million private sector jobs over 14 consecutive months, including more than 8 lakh jobs since the beginning of 2011.

Identifying Japanese earthquake and political turmoil in the Middle East as factors affecting crude oil prices, now above $4 a gallon in the U.S., Mr. Goolsbee said, “Despite headwinds from high energy prices and disruptions from the disaster in Japan, the last three months of private job gains have been the strongest in five years.”

While arguing that the “solid” pace of employment growth in recent months was “encouraging,” he conceded that faster growth was needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn.

Mr. Goolsbee further spoke of the domestic debate on deficit reduction, a subject that President Barack Obama addressed in a recent speech, saying, “We will continue to work with Congress to find ways to reduce spending, so that we can live within our means without neglecting the investments in education, infrastructure, and clean energy that will strengthen our economy”.

Yet, he cautioned, while the overall trajectory of the economy had improved dramatically over the past two years, “There will surely be bumps in the road ahead.”

Keywords: U.S. economy