While a report released by the Labor Department on Friday showed a continued decrease in employment in the month of April, the report showed that economy lost far fewer jobs than economists had been anticipating.

The report showed that non-farm payroll employment fell by 539,000 jobs in April following a revised decrease of 699,000 jobs in March. The decrease in employment marked the smallest drop in jobs since October of 2008.

Economists had expected a decrease of about 600,000 jobs compared to the decrease of 663,000 originally reported for the previous month.

However, with the continued decrease in jobs, the total number of jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007 rose to 5.7 million.

The Labor Department also said that the unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent in April from 8.5 percent in March. The increase, which lifted the unemployment rate to a new 25-year high, came in line with economist estimates.

Chris Low, the chief economist at FTN Financial, noted, Even the four-tenths rise in the unemployment rate was less than the five tenths rise in March. And so the discussion shifts from 'recession or recovery' to 'strong recovery, or weak?'

The continued decrease in jobs reflected notable declines in employment in both the good-producing and service-providing sectors. While goods-producing sectors lost 270,000 jobs, service-providing sectors lost 269,000 jobs.

Continued weakness in both the manufacturing and construction sectors contributed to the decrease in goods-producing jobs.

The drop in service-providing jobs came as a notable decrease in employment in the professional and businesses services sector more than offset increases in government and education and health services jobs.

The report also showed that employees' average hourly earnings edged up $0.01 to $18.51 in April. The modest increase follows a $0.04 increase in March.

Earlier this week, Automatic Data Processing (ADP) released a report showing a continued decrease in private sector employment in the month of April, although the decrease in jobs was much smaller than economists had expected.

The report showed that non-farm private employment fell by 491,000 jobs in April following a revised decrease of 708,000 jobs in March. Economists had expected a decrease of 645,000 jobs compared to the loss of 742,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The smaller than expected decrease in private sector jobs marked the smallest monthly decrease since a loss of 352,000 jobs in October 2008.

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