The U.S. economic recovery continued to chug along as employers added jobs for a third-straight month of strong growth.
The economy created a robust 244,000 jobs in April across a wide range of industries, according to a Labor Department report Friday. Gains in private-sector hiring — 268,000 jobs — were especially encouraging, although the number was offset slightly by jobs lost in state and local governments.
The government also said job growth in previous months was even stronger than first reported, revising its February figures to 235,000 new jobs from 194,000 and March numbers to 221,000 from an initial report of 216,000.
Some analysts forecast that the strong growth will result in a lower unemployment rate in the near term, despite the fact that a separate report showing that the jobless rate edged up to 9 percent last month from 8.8 percent in March as more people began looking for work.
Retailers led the way in hiring, with 57,000 jobs. Factories and financial companies also showed gains, as did the education, health care and even construction sectors — one of the worst-hit by the long and painful recession, according to survey data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The figures signal an improvement in business confidence despite weak growth earlier this year and soaring gas prices that have weighed on consumers and threatened to put the brakes on the recovery. Most analysts agree the economy has strengthened enough to keep growing this year.