Economy

Moderate job growth in March: aberration, or sign of the future?

Moderate job growth in March: aberration, or sign of the future?

"Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 8 cents in March to $26.82, following a 3-cent gain in February", BLS Acting Commissioner William J. Wiatrowski said in releasing the report.

The nation's unemployment rate stayed unchanged at 4.1 percent.

At 1.3 million, the number of long-term unemployed - those jobless for 27 weeks or more - was little changed in March and accounted for 20.3 percent of the unemployed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The pace of growth slowed significantly from February, when the figure was above 300,000. Given the latest numbers, payroll gains have averaged 202,000 a month over the past three months. This month, 323,000 got added to the "not in labor force" number and the civilian labor force declined by 158,000.

Average hourly wages rose, climbing 2.7 percent compared with a year earlier, the department said. Still, the expansion has been puzzlingly slow, with economic growth averaging just 2.2 percent a year, about a percentage point below the historical average.

"This jobs report should not change anyone's views on the outlook for monetary policy", said Neil Dutta, an economist at Renaissance Macro, following the report. "The unemployment rate remained at its lowest level in 17 years and this slightly low "Goldilocks" type of March jobs report could help stabilize markets as we head into earnings season". In March, the Fed announced to raised interest rate to a range of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent, marking the sixth time since the financial crisis that it has raised rates.

The unemployment rate has hovered at 4.1 percent since October as people piled into the labor market.

The biggest jobs gains occurred in manufacturing, health care and white-collar jobs with 22,000 manufacturing positions created. The construction industry contracted by 15,000 jobs in March, after a large gain of 65,000 in February.

Paul Ashworth, chief USA economist at Capital Economics, said Friday's report, "is a good illustration of the inherent volatility in the non-farm payroll data".

The U.S. economy added 103,000 jobs last month, well below expectations for 178,000, and the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1%, instead of falling to 4% as economists had expected.

Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance.


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