Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
Nonfarm payrolls jumped up 162,000 in March, following upward revisions to January and February that added, on net, an additional 62,000. Yes, today’s report was bolstered by temporary Census hiring, but not quite to the extent of some had expected (adding 48,000). Private nonfarm payrolls jumped up 123,000 in March, its largest monthly gain since May 2007, though there may be some “payback” in there from February’s winter storms that blanketed the Northeast. That said, even if you average over February and March (+66,000), it’s still the largest two month average in a little over two years. Gains were broad-based in March, as nearly every major category posted increases except for financial activities (−21,000). As has been the case over the past six months or so, temporary help services posted another relatively strong increase, rising 40,000 March, and has added 313,000 since last October. Healthcare and education employment also continued to trend higher, increasing 45,000 and 22,000, respectively in March. Also, the manufacturing sector eked out a slight gain (up 17,000) in March, while construction employment increased for the first time since June 2007 (up 15,000). Other positive signs coming from the establishment survey included a 0.2 hour increase in the average workweek of production and nonsupervisory workers (rising from 33.1 hours to 33.3 hours), a tick up in the manufacturing workweek, and a 0.2 hour increase in factory overtime.
As for the household survey; the unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent as the number of unemployed persons continued to hover around 15 million in March. However, the labor force participation rate continued to edge higher, rising 0.1 percentage point (pp) to 64.9 percent in March, up 0.3 pp from its current cyclical low in December. Also, the employment-to-population ratio ticked-up 0.1 pp to 58.6 percent in March.