WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – The economy generated a stronger than expected 263,000 new jobs in April, helping to drive down the unemployment rate to a 49-year low of 3.6%. The increase in new jobs easily topped the 217,000 MarketWatch forecast. The jobless rate slid from 3.8% in March to hit the lowest level since December 1969. The average wage paid to American workers rose 6 cents, or 0.2%, to $27.77 an hour. The 12-month rate of hourly wage gains was unchanged at 3.2%. Hours worked each week fell 0.1 hour in April to 34.4. The government revised the increase in new jobs in March to 189,000 from a preliminary 196,000. February’s gain was raised to 56,000 from 33,000.

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