Dissecting the March Jobs Report

Newspaper with jobs report

The Labor Department released its March jobs report with lower than expected job-growth numbers. Economists are debating what those numbers mean. Here’s what we know.

The numbers

98,000: The economy added 98,000 jobs

4.5 percent: The jobless rate fell to 4.5 percent

2.7 percent: Wages went up 2.7 percent over the last year

The good

The 4.5 percent unemployment rate is the lowest since 2007, according to the New York Times. The Wall Street Journal calls it a signal that the economy is at or nearing full employment, and Bloomberg calls it a “signal of underlying strength.”

Additionally, The Wall Street Journal reports the 2.7 percent wage increase shows wages are rising faster now than at the start of the recovery from the Great Recession – a sign the labor market is tightening.

The bad

The economy added far fewer jobs than economists expected at just 98,000. That’s less than half the number of jobs added in January or February. Additionally, the Labor Department revised its numbers from January and February, indicating employers added fewer jobs than the department estimated a few weeks ago.

Retail was one of the worst performing sectors in the economy, losing nearly 30,000 jobs in March after losing about 31,000 in February.

The unknown

Economists are still debating the reason behind the slowed job growth. The New York Times reports some blame the numbers on a cold and snowy March in some parts of the country after a nicer than expected January and February. However, The Atlantic points out that some of the biggest losses were in retail, which wouldn’t be explained by weather.

This puts more pressure April jobs report. You can read our analysis of the April report here.

By | 2017-10-22T14:23:10+00:00 May 1st, 2017|