Job Growth Loses Steam Missing Forecasts, Winter Weather Blamed
US Jobs Report – March 2017
On Friday, April 7, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment situation report for March, which is a widely used indicator for the health of the labor market. Job growth in March marks the smallest gain in almost a year, a sign the labor market is not quite as strong as earlier gains. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell near a ten-year low, marking a milestone in the long road back from the Great Recession.
- U.S. adds only 98,000 new jobs in March to mark the smallest gain in almost a year
- The unemployment rate fell to a near 10-year low of 4.5%
- The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 63.0%
- The size of the labor force expanded by 145,000 people
- 4th-quarter GDP increased to an annual rate of 2.1%, corporate profits on upswing
- Average wages rose 0.2% to $26.14 an hour last month as companies pay more to attract or maintain talent
The three-month average dropped from a revised 197,000 to 178,000 in March while the trailing twelve-month average somewhat slowed to 182,000. This report marks the 78th straight month of continuous job growth.
Employment in professional and business services rose by 56,000, about in line with the average monthly gain over the prior 12 months. Over the month, job gains occurred in services to buildings and dwellings (+17,000) and in architectural and engineering services (+7,000).
Mining added 11,000 jobs in March, with most of the gain occurring in support activities for mining (+9,000). Mining employment has risen by 35,000 since reaching a recent low in October 2016.
Employment continued to trend up in health care (+14,000), with job gains in hospitals (+9,000) and outpatient care centers (+6,000). In the first 3 months of this year, health care added an average of 20,000 jobs per month, compared with an average monthly gain of 32,000 in 2016.
Employment in financial activities continued to trend up in March (+9,000) and has increased by 178,000 over the past 12 months.
Construction employment changed little in March (+6,000), following a gain of 59,000 in February. Employment in construction has been trending up since late last summer, largely among specialty trade contractors and in residential building.
Retail trade lost 30,000 jobs in March. Employment in general merchandise stores declined by 35,000 in March and has declined by 89,000 since a recent high in October 2016.
Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality, and government, showed little or no change over the month.