Economy adds 244k jobs, rate ticks up to 9 pct.

Associated Press
In this May 3, 2011 photo, Justin Miller, left, talks with Leah Chanthapanya, right, at a job fair, in Independence, Ohio. Chanthapanya is looking for a customer service or administrative position. Employers added more than 200,000 jobs in April for the third straight month, the biggest hiring spree in five years. But the unemployment rate rose to 9 percent in part because some people resumed looking for work. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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Employers added more than 200,000 jobs in April for the third straight month, the biggest hiring spree in five years. But the unemployment rate ticked up to 9 percent.

The Labor Department reported Friday that the economy added 244,000 jobs last month. Private employers shrugged off high gas prices and created 268,000 jobs — the most since February 2006.

The gains were widespread. Retailers, factories, financial companies, education and health care and even construction companies all added jobs. Federal, state and local governments cut jobs.

The latest employment figures suggest businesses are confident in the economy despite weak growth earlier this year. The government said job gains in March and February were even stronger than first reported.

Still, unemployment edged up from the 8.8 percent in March. It was the first increase since November.

The government uses a separate survey to calculate the unemployment rate, and sometimes those surveys diverge from month to month.

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