Nonfarm Payroll Employment (BLS; Seasonally Adj.)
Unemployment Rate (BLS; Seasonally Adj.)
Employment-Population Ratio (BLS; Seasonally Adj.)
April is a month with a large seasonal adjustment, and the month when the adjustment switches from positive to negative. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the unemployment rate fell from 8.4% to 7.7%, the employment-population ratio rose from 63.7 to 64.1, and employment grew by 896,000. That is, comparing the adjusted and non-adjusted numbers tells us that April is always a month with big employment gains, but this month's weren't impressive relative to that pattern. There has been some discussion about whether the seasonal adjustment is slightly off, partly because of the warmer than usual weather this winter, which would mean that some of the hiring that normally might occur in the spring could have happened earlier.
The February and March payroll employment figures were revised upward a bit, by 19,000 and 24,000 respectively.
Overall, this report is consistent with the picture we've had from most of the data releases over the past year of an economy that is growing, but not quickly enough to make up for the ground lost in the 2008-09 recession - i.e., to close the "output gap." 12.5 million people remain unemployed.
Update: More reaction from Brad Plumer, Greg Ip, Floyd Norris, Mark Thoma, Calculated Risk, and the econ "twitterverse".