Employers ramped up their hiring in April, the Labor Department said Friday, giving hope that recent signs of weakening growth have not undermined job creation. But the unemployment rate also rose, showing that American workers are still having a rough time finding jobs.

Employers added 244,000 jobs in April, the agency said, with the gain in private-sector jobs — 268,000 — the strongest in five years. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, moved up to 9 percent from 8.8 percent, rising for the first time since November. Although that increase was slight, it is a disappointing reminder that the nation’s long economic recovery has been uneven, with 13.7 million people who want a job unable to find one.

The job growth data, based on a survey of employers and considered a more reliable month-to-month indicator, surprised economists, who had predicted a gain of 185,000 jobs. Employers appear to be shrugging off lagging first-quarter growth, higher fuel prices and a daunting global environment to add to their payrolls more aggressively than they have in years.

But in the household survey, which measures unemployment, 205,000 more Americans reported themselves unemployed, and the ratio of Americans who are working edged down to 58.4 percent, from 58.5 percent. That means the number of unemployed workers grew because fewer of those already in the work force have jobs, not because people without jobs decided to start looking for one, which would be a healthy sign for the economy.

“This is the third consecutive month of job creation over 200,000,” said Jason Schenker, president of Prestige Economics, in a report. “Jobs are coming back. Nevertheless, it will be many years before the unemployment rate falls to pre-recession levels.”

The conflicting reports from the two surveys hint at a reversal of an earlier trend. In December and January, the survey of households indicated a far faster rate of economic improvement than did the survey of businesses. The jobless rate had fallen steadily since November. But the April increase in unemployment has hit a level that makes more sense given the pace of job creation over the past six months.

In December and January, payrolls dropped sharply. April’s advances, however, show the private sector hiring as aggressively as it has in half a decade, although that expansion is partly offset by cuts by state and local governments. That is consistent with reports from the private sector that businesses are becoming more confident in the economy and filling more positions.

“It appears that many employers are back to recruiting more than they were a year and, especially, two years ago,” said Jesse Harriott, chief knowledge officer at Monster Worldwide, which prepares a monthly index based on online recruitment advertising. “We’ve seen sequential increases in activity every month this year, and the good news is it’s pretty broad-based.”

That said, Harriott and other analysts note that it will take years to replace the jobs lost in the 2007-2009 recession at the current pace of growth. President Barack Obama’s chief economist, Austan Goolsbee, acknowledged as much even as he pointed to encouraging numbers on hiring.

“Despite head winds from high energy prices and disruptions from the disaster in Japan, the last three months of private job gains have been the strongest in five years,” Goolsbee said in a statement. “While the solid pace of employment growth in recent months is encouraging, faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn.”

The data’s contradictions make it hard to draw firm conclusions about the direction of the job market. But considering other signs of slowed growth, including a 1.8 percent pace of first-quarter growth, the boost in hiring offers some reassurance that the economic expansion is well entrenched.

On Friday, the Labor Department also revised upward its estimates of previous months’ job creation, reporting that employers added 46,000 more jobs in February and March than earlier estimated.

Obama, speaking during a visit to Allison Transmission in Indianapolis, which makes car transmissions, called the jobs numbers a sign of “economic momentum.”

“The economic momentum that is taking place here at Allison is taking place all across America,” Obama said. “Over the last 14 months, just a little bit over a year, we’ve added more than 2 million jobs in the private sector.”

Job growth was strongest in the retail sector, with 57,100 jobs added. The leisure and hospitality sector gained 46,000 jobs, signaling that consumer-driven businesses are feeling confident about the nation’s spending outlook (a late-April Easter holiday might have helped).

Other major gains included professional and business service firms, with 51,000 jobs added; and education and health care, 49,000.

There was only one major employer to shed jobs: Governments cut 24,000 positions, with 22,000 of those at the state and local level. State and local governments have been dealing with budget shortfalls by laying off and furloughing workers.

Wages increased, but barely. Average hourly pay inched up to $22.95, from $22.92, and the length of the workweek was unchanged.