“The labor market is continuing to improve,” said Roberto Perli, a former Fed board economist who is now a partner at Cornerstone Macro LLC in Washington. Policy makers thought “September was the base case for an increase, and that is still the case.”

Employers added 223,000 workers to payrolls in April after a bigger setback in March than was previously estimated, Labor Department data showed Friday. The unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent, the lowest since May 2008, from 5.5 percent.

 Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues are gauging the strength of the labor market as they consider when to lift the main interest rate from near zero for the first time since December 2008. The first rise will be in September, according to 73 percent of 59 economists in a Bloomberg survey conducted April 22-24. Read More…