Employers cut far fewer jobs in April than most economists predicted, and unemployment edged lower, down to 5 percent. The closely watched jobs report was released Friday morning.
A total of 20,000 jobs were lost in April. Economists were expecting to lose 80,000. So the numbers are better than expected.
That's a big deal because the jobs report is one of the best thermometers of how the overall economy is holding up.
Peter Morici, an economist at the University of Maryland, says the number of job losses in financial services was lower than expected. He thinks that's because while mortgage-lenders are firing salespeople, they're hiring people to help deal with all of the foreclosures.
There were job gains in government, education and health services. But there were pretty heavy job losses in manufacturing and construction. And the economy is still facing some big problems.
"We have trouble in the banks. We have gas at $3.60. We have a huge supply of unsold homes. Consumers are terribly in debt and have to dig themselves out," Morici says.
That's likely to keep the economy sputtering for at least the next year, he says.