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March Jobs Report Bounces Back

April 10, 2019
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By Tom Cunningham, PhD

The March National Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics looks optimistic. After an underwhelming job growth month in February, March bounced back with 196,000 jobs created – well above the 170,000 expected. Meanwhile, the headline unemployment rate (U3) remained unchanged at 3.8 percent, as expected, and the broader measure of labor underutilization (U6) also remained steady at 7.3 percent.

The decent pace of job creation suggests that last month’s dismal performance of 20,000 jobs was likely an anomaly and that the economy is still strong. February’s job creation was revised, bringing the total to 33,000 – still very low – but that was preceded by an extremely strong January with 312,000 jobs. This month’s notable gains occurred in health care, professional and technical services, and food services. Construction increased slightly, and manufacturing broke its positive streak with a minor decline of 6,000 jobs. Other sectors were essentially unchanged.

Average hourly earnings are up 3.2 percent over the last twelve months, which is off from last month’s 3.4 percent growth pace. This slight slowdown is a little disappointing, as it had been expected to continue at its previous pace.

All in all, the March job report decidedly takes the edge off of last month’s slowdown. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that we can relax as financial markets – particularly the yield curve – have been sending some warning messages, the March report makes it clear that the labor market remains in rather good condition.

 

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