Job Growth in March Nears 200,000

Unemployment Unchanged at 3.8 Percent

JOB GROWTH: The employment market saw a resurgence of hiring in March when job growth reached 196,000. This compares favorably to an almost flat February, despite a modest upward revision of that month’s numbers. The three-month trend is now at 180,000 new jobs created every month, on average.

TOP INDUSTRIES: Healthcare and professional and technical services logged the highest numbers of new jobs in March.

UNEMPLOYMENT: The unemployment rate remained steady at 3.8 percent in March.

WAGES: March saw a bit of forward momentum in hourly earnings but not enough to make any gains in the average annual rate, which slipped back to 3.2 percent.

WORK WEEK: The average work week reversed direction (again), increasing slightly in March to 34.5 hours.

TEMPORARY JOB TRENDS: Jobs activity in the temporary help sector is moving in the wrong direction. A March loss of 5,400 jobs and a small gain in February are overshadowed by a significant downward revision of January numbers, signaling overall weakness for the first quarter of the year.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? Job growth in March exceeded expectations and accelerated briskly in comparison to the previous month but was nowhere near as robust as the first month of the year. Based on this month’s jobs report, the current outlook is positive. However, some economists continue to warn of a coming downturn that will further slow job growth. One reason to worry: higher numbers of job gains in lower-paid and lower-skilled occupations ripe for replacement due to technology. Another concern is a simple lack of available talent due to the tightening labor supply. The latter is evident in wage increases, which, although modest, continue to trend positively, as employers look for ways to entice new hires.

This newsletter references the BLS Report of March activity, released 4/5/19.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Steinberg Employment Research, CNBC, Staffing Industry Analysts, Bloomberg, MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, USA Today, Forbes, Business News Daily, The New York Times, Yahoo! Finance