Mixed job report shows 8.8% unemployment, little change in hiring

The employment picture may not be robust yet but at least it appears to have moved up one or two notches. Payroll employment has sustained somewhat stronger gains, the unemployment rate is still below 9%. However, wage growth is lagging and anemic. Overall payroll employment in March gained 216,000, following a revised 194,000 increase in February and a 68,000 rise in January. The March boost came in higher than the consensus forecast for a 200,000 increase. The January and February revisions were up net 7,000. Private nonfarm payrolls posted a 230,000 increase in March, following a 240,000 rise in February. Analysts had projected a 190,000 boost for March.

By major sectors, job gains were seen in both goods-producing and service-providing sectors. Goods-producing jobs advanced 31,000, following a 73,000 boost in February. For the latest month, manufacturing jobs grew 17,000 after a 32,000 gain in February. However, construction employment dipped 1,000, following a 37,000 boost the prior month. Mining jumped 14,000 in March.

Private service-providing jobs increased 199,000 after a 167,000 rise in February. Health care rose 44,500, waste services advance 42,000, temp help gained, 28,800, and retail rose 17,700.

Government jobs fell 14,000, following a 46,000 drop in February.

The earnings picture in March is disappointing as average hourly earnings were flat, matching February. The latest posted lower than the market estimate for a 0.2 percent gain. The average workweek for all workers was 34.3 hours, equaling analysts' forecast.

On a year-ago basis, overall payroll job growth held steady at up 1.0 percent in March.

Turning to the household survey, the unemployment rate edged down to 8.8 percent in March from 8.9 percent the month before.

Today's report is mixed. The job numbers are moderately good-for this recovery. But they are still soft relative to typical recoveries. And average hourly earnings point to sluggishness in the labor market. While job numbers topped expectations, the wage figure probably put the overall report at about expectations. The labor market is improving net, but very slowly. Via BLS:
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 216,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 8.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, health care, leisure and hospitality, and mining. Employment in manufacturing continued to trend up.

The number of unemployed persons (13.5 million) and the unemployment rate (8.8 percent) changed little in March. The labor force also was little changed over the month. Since November 2010, the jobless rate has declined by 1.0 percentage point.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (8.6 percent), adult women (7.7 percent), teenagers (24.5 percent), whites (7.9 percent), blacks (15.5 percent), and Hispanics (11.3 percent) showed little change in March. The jobless rate for Asians was 7.1 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

The number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, at 8.2 million, was little changed in March but has fallen by 1.3 million since November 2010. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was 6.1 million in March; their share of the unemployed increased from 43.9 to 45.5 percent over the month.

In March, the civilian labor force participation rate held at 64.2 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 58.5 percent, changed little.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in March, at 8.4 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In March, 2.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, up slightly from a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 921,000 discouraged workers in March, little changed from a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in March had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

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