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The job market bounced back in April as the economy thawed out from a wicked winter that all but froze hiring.

The Labor Department reported Friday that U.S. employers added 223,000 jobs in April, up from 85,000 in March (revised downward). Economists had been expecting an increase of around 215,000 in April. The unemployment rate slipped slightly to 5.4 percent, a seven-year low, from 5.5 percent.

There were conflicting readings of U.S. employment this week leading up the report. On Thursday, weekly jobless claims rose by less than Wall Street expected. However, Wednesday's data from ADP showed 169,000 private sector jobs were added in April, the fewest since January 2014.

The latest GDP reading from the government on the first quarter showed the economy expanded at just a 0.2 percent annual rate on falling exports due to the strong dollar, bad weather crimping consumer spending and dropping oil prices cutting energy sector capital spending.

Wage growth also hinted at a rebound in the economy. Average hourly earnings rose 2.2 percent from a year ago.

Hiring was up across a broad swath of industries except for manufacturing and retail. Services added 62,000 jobs, while health care and construction sectors each added 45,000 payrolls.

One weak factor in the report was the average workweek, which came in unchanged at 34.5 hours.


-- NBC News' Patrick J. Rizzo and CNBC contributed to this report