March Jobs Report: Where the Jobs Are (and Aren't)

The unemployment rate had been expected to come in unchanged.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast 5,000 new positions and said the jobless rate would increase to 6.7 percent from 6.6 percent in February. Good news from households: their unemployment rate declined to 4.5%. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors. Critics warn against putting too much stock in the data, however, which calculate the veteran unemployment rate from a much smaller sample size than the overall rate.

Just 98,000 net new jobs were added last month, reflecting, among other things, stalled hiring in construction and another significant decline in retailers' payrolls, the Labor Department said Friday. "We have to acknowledge however, that there's a bit of evidence that the month wasn't as disappointing as that headline number would indicate because the unemployment rate slipped to 4.5%". Amid these job losses, wage growth for retail workers was a paltry 1.1 percent before inflation, far worse than the national average. Many economists did not expect the sector to maintain the kind of gains it saw in February as robots play an increasing role and even amid promises from Washington to create many more manufacturing jobs.

Temporary help services employment increased by 0.35% in March, adding 10,500 jobs. About 56,000 jobs were added in March, up from 36,000 added in February. While President Trump had recently tweeted a Fox Business clip that showed 263,000 jobs added, that was the less scientific ADP report.

Trucking firms slowed their roll in March, adding half as many jobs as they did in February.

A broad measure of unemployment, that includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they can not find full-time employment, fell to 8.9 per cent, the lowest level since December 2007, from 9.2 per cent in February.

Job gains were found in professional and business services and mining, while retail continued to lose positions.

While the report shows that the total number of unemployed Americans fell by over 300,000, there are still 7.2 million people out of work across the country. Retail shed 30,000 jobs, after declining by 26,000 jobs in February. Most important, it did so without a decline in the share of Americans working or looking for work, known as labor force participation rate, which stayed the same.

Ceci said jobs growth is good news in the face of what has been a dire situation for some families.

  • Zachary Reyes