U.S. recoups jobs lost in recession as economy picks up
By Lucia Mutikani
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. employment returned to its pre-recession peak in May with a solid pace of hiring that offered confirmation the economy has snapped back from a winter slump.
Nonfarm payrolls increased 217,000 last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, in line with market expectations. Data for March and April was revised to show 6,000 fewer jobs created than previously reported.
"This was a very solid report with no obvious warts to detract from the underlying message of sustained improvement in economic activity," said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York.
May marked a fourth straight month of job gains above 200,000, a stretch last witnessed in January 2000, even though it also was a slowdown from the 282,000 jobs created in April, when hiring was still bouncing back from a winter lull.
The nation finally recouped the 8.7 million jobs lost during the recession, with 8.8 million more people working now than at the trough in February 2010. But the working age population has since increased 10.6 million while 12.8 million Americans have dropped out of the labor force.
The upbeat jobs report hoisted U.S. stocks to record highs. U.S. Treasury debt prices slipped, while the dollar was little changed against a basket of currencies.
ECONOMY GAINING TRACTION Continued...