Donald Trump Can't Be Pleased About the Latest Jobs Report

In a surprisingly weak report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that 103,000 new, seasonally adjusted jobs were created in March. That was far below the 175,000 of the consensus of experts surveyed by Bloomberg earlier this week. Of those jobs, 102,000 were created in the private sector, 1,000 in the public sector. The report marked the smallest number of job gains since September 2017 and contrasted sharply with February’s strong report. For the sixth consecutive month, the headline unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent in March. 


The BLS report marked the 90th consecutive month of overall job growth, an all-time record.

The bureau also uses another gauge, one which many economists believe provides a more complete look at the job market’s overall health because it includes unemployment, underemployment and some discouraged workers. That measure fell to 8.0 percent, equal to its level at the start of the Great Recession in December 2007.

As usual, job estimates for the previous two months were revised to include data unavailable when reports for those months were originally released. February’s gains were revised from 313,000 to 326,000, and January’s numbers from 239,000 to 176,000. 

Average wages for all workers rose by 4 cents an hour. Since last March, wages have risen 71 cents an hour, 2.7 percent for the 12-month period, against an annual inflation rate of 2.2 percent. Ben Casselman reports:

The bigger picture is that wage growth remains weaker than most economists would expect when unemployment is so low. Economists have proposed a long list of possible explanations, from globalization to weak productivity growth. Most still expect employers to have to raise pay eventually to attract and retain workers. But so far, employers are resisting.

“It’s a standoff, almost, on wages,” said Jason Guggisberg, a vice president at the staffing firm Adecco. “Who’s going to go first?”

Full-time and part-time positions are included in the bureau’s count. A person who has worked a single hour a week during the survey period is counted as employed. The bureau finishes its data collection around the 12th of each month, meaning that the report released today is for the last half of February and the first half of March, not March as a whole.

Unemployment rates differ by race and sex. [Percentages in brackets are for February. For U3: Adult men: 3.7 percent [3.7]; Adult women: 3.7 percent [3.8]; Whites: 3.6 percent [3.7] ; Blacks: 6.9 percent [6.9]; Asians: 3.1 5.1 percent [2.9]; Hispanics: [4.9]; American Indians: (not counted monthly).

Each month’s jobs gains or losses are calculated by analyzing the Current Employment Survey of 147,000 business establishments. The unemployment rate is calculated from the Current Population Survey of 60,000 households.

U3 is the BLS label for its headline rate of unemployment. As noted, that has been 4.1 percent for six months running, and remains at its lowest level in 17 years. 

In addition, the bureau calculated a rate it labels U6, which looks at “labor underutilitization” and covers both unemployment and underemployment. In March, as noted above, U6 fell to 8.0 percent. Its low shortly before the Great Recession began was 8 percent in March 2007. However, in mid-2001, it reached 6.9 percent. The U6 count covers a number of categories, one of those being part-time workers who want full-time positions but cannot get them.

The civilian workforce fell by 158,000 in March after rising 806,000 in February. The labor force participation rate fell 0.1 to 62.9 percent in March, and the employment-population ratio remained unchanged at 60.4 percent.

Additional details from the report:

Hours & Wages:

 Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose 4 cents an hour to $22.42 after rising 6 cents an hour in February.
 Average work week for all employees on non-farm payroll remained at 34.5 hours in March.
 Average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls rose 8 cents an hour to $26.82 after rising 4 cents an hour in February.
 The manufacturing work week in March slipped by 0.1 hour to 40.9 hours.

November Job Gains and Losses for selected categories:

  • Professional services: 33,000
    • Temporary help services: -600
  • Transportation & warehousing: 9,800
  • Financial activities: 2,000
  • Leisure & hospitality: 5,000
  • Information: 2,000
  • Education and health services: 25,000
    • Health care & social assistance: 33,800
  • Retail trade: -.4.400
  • Construction: -15,000
  • Manufacturing: 22,000
  • Mining and Logging: 8,000

Here's what the seasonally adjusted job growth numbers have looked like in the previous decade compared with this March’s gain of 103,000 jobs.

March 2008:    -55,000    
March  2009: -802,000
March 2010:   193,000  
March  2011:  254,000
March 2012:   264,000
March 2013:   156,000
March 2014:   261,000
March 2015:     78,000
March 2016:   235,000
March​​​​​​​ 2017:     73,000

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