Unemployment Remains Below 9 Percent, Surprising Experts

Here’s a bit of cheery news: The economy lost 539,000 jobs in April—far fewer than the 600,000 analysts had expected—and unemployment reached 8.9 percent, the highest level since 1983 but less than the 9 percent predicted.

Much of the jobs buoying the numbers came from the federal government, which hired 72,000 workers last month, many of them to conduct the 2010 census. Meanwhile, 72 percent of private industries reported job losses, including construction, manufacturing, retail, and professional services.

The markets responded to this information by jumping a percent or so almost immediately after the BLS’s announcement.