WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. unemployment rate plunged in April to its lowest level since September 2008 as employers added 288,000 jobs, the most in two years.
The figures are a clear sign that the economy is picking up after a brutal winter slowed growth.
The Labor Department says the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent from 6.7 percent in March. But the drop occurred because the number of people working or seeking work fell sharply. People not seeking work aren't counted as unemployed.
Employers also added more jobs in February and March than previously estimated. The job totals for those two months were revised up by a combined 36,000.
Job creation is accelerating: Employers added an average of 238,000 jobs the past three months. That's up from 167,000 in the previous three.
When April's jobs report is released this morning experts are predicting at least 200,000 jobs will have been created, and the unemployment rate could dip below the current 6.7%.
With more and more jobs being created and the unemployment rate trending downward, Bankrate's Mark Hamrick says job growth will continue to accelerate in the 2nd half of the year.
He blames much of the slowdown early in the year on the bad weather.
Hamrick adds the news is even better because the quality of the jobs being created are better, and as the unemployment rate gets closer to 6%, wages should begin to rise.
As for new college grads, he feels the market hasn't been this good since the financial crisis began.
More than 1/2 of those surveyed claim they'll hire some people from the class of 2014.