US jobs report: A tale of 2 surveys, at a glance

Overall nonfarm payrolls rose by 98,000 jobs, the slowest pace in almost a year, though the unemployment rate dropped to 4.5%, its lowest since May of 2007, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

Canada added a greater-than-expected 19,400 jobs in March, a lot of them full-time, while the unemployment rate edged up to 6.7 percent as more people sought work, Statistics Canada data indicated on Friday.

But latest Statistics Canada job survey also shows the bulk of those new positions were in the self-employment category, which can include people working for a family business without pay. Analysts had said the strong job creation the previous two months had been boosted by unusually warm weather.

Construction firms added 6,000 jobs in March, the fewest in seven months. Retail trade lost 30,000 jobs, while manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, leisure and hospitality, and information saw little change during the month, it said.

The employment-to-population ratio increased one-tenth of a percentage point to 60.1 per cent, the highest since February 2009.

People waited in line for more than an hour just to drop off their resume for work on Site C at the job fair in Fort St. John in March of 2016. "If you look at the underlying data outside of this singular report and the way it's measured, the data still suggests that job growth is pretty good", said Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Services in Troy, Michigan.

The number of jobs created in February was revised down from 235,000 to 219,000, while the figure for January was revised down from 238,000 to 216,000.

A rate of unemployment under 5% indicates that an economy is in "full employment".

What's more, for the first time in years, overseas growth stands to boost the U.S. economy.

"Aside from the payroll data, all the other underlying details are encouraging", said Tom Simons, an economist at Jefferies LLC in NY. "The trend in job growth remains solid and the overall economy is still doing well". The unemployment rate declined to 4.5 percent in March, and total nonfarm payroll employment edged up by 98,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Hiring also slowed in the education and health care sectors, for example, which are unlikely to have been much affected by the weather. One silver lining in the cloud: earnings went up as jobs in low-paying retail declined, and in higher-paying professional services rose.

Alberta's south showed this province's lowest unemployment rate, 6.9 per cent (unadjusted) in the Lethbridge-Medicine Hat region.

A larger labor force: Throughout the recession and recovery, the share of Americans participating in the labor force - meaning they were either working or actively looking for work - kept falling, hitting a multidecade low in 2015.

  • Carolyn Briggs