Unemployment rate falls, but for wrong reasons

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By Annalyn Kurtz

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The jobs recovery is still chugging along, although at this pace it will still take years to get back to a pre-recession labor market.

The U.S. economy added 288,000 jobs in April, the Department of Labor said Friday.

While that’s an encouraging sign that the economy is continuing to improve, the unemployment rate told a different story. That number, which comes from a survey of households, shows Americans are dropping out of the labor force and fewer people report they’re employed. These trends led to the unemployment rate falling to 6.3%, its lowest level since 2008.

Given the millions of jobs lost in the financial crisis, even modest hiring is still not enough to put the huge backlog of unemployed Americans back to work. Long-term unemployment remains elevated with 3.5 million people out of a job for six months or more.

Economists estimate it could take at least another two years until the job market returns to its pre-recession health, when the unemployment rate was around 4% to 5%.

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