Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
Nonfarm payrolls rose 120,000 in March, following revised estimates for January and February that, on net, added 4,000 jobs. Despite the hiccup in March, payrolls have still managed an average increase of 210,000 over the last three months, and are trending above the 12-month average gain of 158,000. Cross-industry performance was mixed. Perhaps surprisingly, manufacturing was among the top gainers in March, adding 37,000 to payrolls (12,000 was in auto manufacturing). Other goods-producing categories didn’t fare as well, as mining and logging payrolls were flat and construction payrolls slipped down 7,000. In the service sector, employment in food services and drinking places rose 37,000, in line with its 6-month average gain of 34,000. Healthcare employment continued its upward march, rising 26,000 during the month. Employment in the financial sector jumped up 15,000 in March, its largest monthly gain since April 2006. Also, professional and business services employment rose 31,000 in March, unaided by employment in temporary help services (which was flat after jumping up 55,000 in February). On the other hand, retail trade payrolls fell by 34,000 in March, following a sharp downward revision to February’s estimate—from a gain of 25,000 to a decrease of 29,000. The average workweek for all employees edged down 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours (factory overtime was unchanged) in March. And earnings ticked up slightly (0.2 percent) and are up 2.1 percent over the past year.
On the household side, the unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage point to 8.2 percent. However, that was largely due to a 164,000 decrease in the labor force. The number of employed persons slipped down 31,000 in March (which is roughly flat considering the standard error of this series). The employment-to-population ratio was nudged down 0.1 percentage point to 58.5 percent. Interestingly, the number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons slipped down from 8.1 million to 7.7 million in March, though it's not entirely clear where they went. Given the decrease in hours (from the other survey) and the contraction in the labor force, it may be tempting to speculate that these workers left the labor force, though that is not certain. Also, the number of long-term unemployed (jobless for 27+ weeks) was roughly unchanged in March, still accounting for a little more than 42 percent of the pool of unemployed persons.