"It suggests the labor market is still improving and is helping to sustain consumer spending and housing market advances. However, there is little sign in these data to suggest that a marked acceleration in monthly job creation in the months ahead is in the cards," cautioned Scott Anderson, chief economist for the Bank of the West in San Francisco. "The lack of manufacturing jobs could signal a slowdown in service job growth in the months ahead if the manufacturing sector continues to cool. Equity prices are advancing as traders breathe a little easier that the sky is not yet falling on the U.S. economic expansion."
Despite the numbers, the head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers warned in his blog that the automatic budget cuts will continue to do harm in the months ahead.
"Now is not the time for Washington to impose self-inflicted wounds on the economy," wrote Alan Krueger. "The administration continues to urge Congress to replace the sequester with balanced deficit reduction."
Faced with an improving jobs outlook, Republicans offered a muted response.
"Today's jobs report showed some signs of hope for the thousands of people who found a job in April. However, this growth is way behind our nation's potential," House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., said in a statement. "We must focus on job creation more than one day a month."
There was slight improvement in some problem areas as long-term unemployment, which fell by 258,000 posts to a still-high 4.4 million. As a percentage of the unemployed, this number fell by 2.2 percentage points and now reflects 37.4 percent of all those classified as unemployed.
Additionally, after shrinking for three consecutive months, the size of the labor force increased by 210,000 workers in April, suggesting that hiring helped bring down the jobless rate by a tenth of a percentage point during the month, to 7.5 percent. About 11.7 million Americans were counted as unemployed in April.
There was a warning sign deep within Friday's report, though.
"The only blemish was the outsized decline in hours worked per week. The decline was especially large in retail, leisure and hospitality and construction. This suggests that small businesses are putting more workers into part-time jobs to avoid the impact of health-care reform," Zandi said.
Giving weight to that concern, the number of people who reported to the Labor Department that they were working part-time but wanted full-time employment increased in April by 278,000, to 7.9 million Americans.