Job Growth in March Tips Toward 100,000

Unemployment Drops to Lowest Point in Nearly 10 Years

JOB GROWTH: March saw the addition of 98,000 jobs, which, while moderately positive, is significantly lower than the previous two months (even after both months were revised downward by a total of 38,000). The three-month average monthly job growth figure of 180,000 remains strong.

TOP INDUSTRIES: In March, the most significant gains were recorded in professional and business services and mining. The retail sector saw a slowdown in job creation, reflecting previously announced store closings, as traditional retailers struggle to compete with online shopping.

UNEMPLOYMENT: The unemployment rate dropped by two-tenths of a percent to 4.5 percent in March—the lowest level in nearly a decade—lowering the number of people considered unemployed by 326,000.

WAGES: Wages rose in March, changing the annual average hourly increase to 2.7 percent.

WORK WEEK: The average work week remained unchanged at 34.4 hours.

TEMPORARY JOB TRENDS: Following an upward revision in temporary job growth in February, March added another 10,500 new positions. This positive momentum generated a year-over-year growth rate of 3.82 percent in March, the highest rate since July 2015.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? With job growth down considerably from the previous two months, March might be considered a signal of a weakening economy. While some of the slowdown could be attributed to unusual weather, this may all simply be a natural and expected tightening of the labor market as we move into full employment mode. On a positive note, unemployment is down and wage growth is up. Taken together, these factors indicate continued challenges to employers looking to grow their businesses but having difficulty finding the skilled job candidates they need.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Steinberg Employment Research, Bloomberg, CNBC, Business Insider, The Washington Post, CNN Money, Kiplinger, HotAir, Associated Press, Staffing Industry Analysts 

This newsletter references the BLS Report of March activity, released 4/7/17

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