NEW YORK (AP) _ The stock market swept ahead today, responding to employment statistics that raised hopes for an easier Federal Reserve credit policy and lower interest rates.

The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials rose 21.32 to 2,511.95 by 11 a.m. on Wall Street, surpassing the post-crash closing high of 2,502.02 it reached on May 22.

Gainers outnumbered losers by more than 4 to 1 in nationwide trading of New York Stock Exchange-listed issues.

Volume on the Big Board came to 92.60 million shares at midmorning.

The Labor Department reported that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 101,000 in May - only about half of the amount projected by economists at leading brokerage firms.

Janet Norwood, commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, described job growth as ''very slow.''

Traders seized on the data as evidence that the Federal Reserve might soon relax its credit policy, seeking to cushion the economy against the risks of a recession.

Interest rates dropped sharply in the credit markets. Prices of long-term government bonds, which move in the opposite direction from interest rates, rose about $10 for each $1,000 in face value.

Texaco led the active list, up 1/8 at 49 1/8 . The stock fell 2 1/4 points Thursday as financier Carl Icahn unloaded his holdings of more than 42 million Texaco shares.

USX, meanwhile, slipped back 5/8 to 36 7/8 after taking a 2 3/8 -point jump Thursday. News of the Texaco transaction prompted speculation that Icahn might be preparing a deal for USX, in which he also has long held a large stake.

The NYSE's composite index of all its listed common stocks gained 1.44 to 181.07. At the American Stock Exchange, the market value index was up 1.52 at 359.61.