U.S. job growth recovers, keeps 2015 Fed rate rise in play

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Job seekers speak with recruiters during the NYC Restaurant Job Expo at the Gabarron Foundation in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, April 9, 2013. The U.S. Department of Labor is scheduled to release jobless claims figures on April 11. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg
Job seekers speak with recruiters during the NYC Restaurant Job Expo at the Gabarron Foundation in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, April 9, 2013. The U.S. Department of Labor is scheduled to release jobless claims figures on April 11. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg
Photographer: Peter Foley

BY LUCIA MUTIKANI

U.S. job growth rebounded last month and the unemployment rate dropped to a near seven-year low of 5.4 percent, suggesting underlying strength in the economy at the start of the second quarter that could keep alive prospects for a Federal Reserve rate hike later this year.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 223,000 as gains in services sector and construction jobs offset weakness in mining, the Labor Department said on Friday. The one-tenth of a percentage point decline in the unemployment rate to its lowest level since May 2008 came even as more people piled into the labor market.

However, wage growth was tepid and March payrolls were revised downward, leading financial markets to push back rate hike bets.

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