Unemployment Rate Drops Slightly to 3.5%
The month of March saw an increase of 236,000 jobs, fewer than in the previous two months but a level of activity that typically signals strong growth.
In addition to continued growth in the leisure and hospitality, government, and healthcare sectors, professional and business services also recorded solid growth in March. Job cuts were seen in construction, manufacturing and retail.
The unemployment rate moved from 3.6% in February to 3.5% in March.
Compensation levels modified slightly, bringing the average hourly increase over the previous 12 months to 4.2%, down from 4.6% last month.
The average work week dropped further in March to 34.4 hours.
Temporary Job Trends:
The temp sector experienced a loss in March of 10,700 jobs.
What Does It All Mean?
The labor market continues to hum, with solid figures for jobs creation, although momentum has slowed since January. Sporadic layoffs continue, pay rate hikes are less dramatic, and for the first time in nearly two years, the number of unfilled jobs dropped below 10 million. The labor force participation rate edged up to 62.6%.
All of this could signal progress toward the Federal Reserves’ goal to counter inflation through increased interest rates. It could also reflect rising concerns about the possibility of a significant dampening of economic growth. Whether fears are real or imagined, there are increasing signs that the pace of jobs growth is moderating.
Even as the longstanding tightness in the labor market eases somewhat, employers continue to struggle to fill jobs needed to support growth. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, labor quality and cost issues continue to confound efforts to hire both skilled and unskilled labor. What is neither changing, nor slowing, is the relentless need for innovative recruiting strategies and strong retention efforts for the foreseeable future.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CNBC, CNN, Staffing Industry Analysts, American Staffing Association, Bloomberg, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal