Strong jobs report buoys stock market

The stock market rode good job creation news to new highs Friday morning.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed above 15,000 for the first time, while the S&P 500 hit 1,600. The Nasdaq composite index rose 1.3 percent to 3,384.39.

Investors around the world reacted positively to the Labor Department’s report that employers added a better-than-expected 165,000 jobs last month.

Furthermore, payroll job creation in February and March was 114,000 jobs higher than previously reported, a sign that the economy hasn’t sunk into another recession.

Also positive: The national unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent in April from 7.6 percent in March, sinking to a four-year low and its lowest rate since December 2008.

The labor department’s household and establishment surveys both indicated an economy that continues to improve. The monthly job creation average for the last six months was 208,000, compared to a 138,000 average for the six months before that.

“This is a good report,” said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo. “There’s a lot of strength…It does not mean a dramatic slowdown.”

There were, of course, some factors that remained troubling. Unemployment of young people and some minorities far exceeds the national average, the average workweek fell slightly, which means less pay for hourly workers, and long-term unemployment continues to burden more than one-third of the jobless.

Job creation also is trending toward a larger part-time and temporary workforce, partly because employers may be trying to keep workweeks under 30 hours to escape health care coverage mandates for full-time employees.

Still, joblessness has fallen 0.4 percentage point so far in 2013. The Federal Reserve is keeping a close eye on that number and has said it will keep pursuing an economic stimulus effort – by keeping interest rates low and buying billions of dollars in bonds – until the unemployment rate sinks to 6.5 percent.

Analysts cautioned that the economy remains relatively soft and that continuing effects of the sequester and government job cuts could continue to hurt recovery.