NEW YORK — The unemployment rate unexpectedly fell in April as workers dropped out of the labor force and hiring slowed.
The economy added 115,000 jobs in the month, the Labor Department reported Friday, down from March when the economy added 154,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 8.1% as 342,000 workers dropped out of the labor force.
Economists surveyed by CNNMoney had expected to see employers add 160,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to remain at 8.2%. The labor market has been on a roller coaster this year, with job growth starting off strong in the first couple of months of 2012. Then a disappointing slowdown in March led many to wonder whether the recovery was taking a turn for the worse. April's weak growth compounded those fears.
But revisions from previous months also showed the economy gained 53,000 more jobs in February and March than originally thought. Still, the overall job market has a long way to go to climb out of the deep hole left by the financial crisis. Of the 8.8 million jobs lost, only about 3.7 million have been added back.
Roughly 12.5 million Americans remain unemployed, and 41.3% of them have been so for six months or more.