The Labor Department released its March jobs report with slower than expected job growth, but the 103,000 jobs added to the U.S. economy extended the longest stretch of expansion to 90 months.
103,000: The economy added 103,000 jobs in March.
4.1%: The unemployment rate remained steady at 4.1 percent.
2.7%: Wages increased 2.7 percent over the last year.
After February’s strong jobs numbers, the 103,000 jobs added to the economy seems disappointing. However, according to MarketWatch, the U.S. still added an average of 202,000 jobs each month in the first quarter of 2017. This is still strong growth.
Additionally, the unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent. Though economists had expected that to fall to 4.0 percent in March, the current rate is still the lowest since 2000.
The 2.7 percent wage growth is largely a positive. It is still moderate – slightly higher than the 2.5 percent seen through most of 2017, but low enough to prevent fears of inflation, according to the Wall Street Journal. However, many workers would like to see this number increase.
This is the weakest job growth the economy has seen in six months. In September 2017 after the destruction of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the economy only added 14,000 jobs, though it was initially reported as a loss. The previous low was March 2017, when the economy added what was revised to only 73,000 jobs. Additionally, retail saw job losses in March after significant gains in February.
According to the New York Times, it still unclear what impact escalating trade tensions with China will have on the U.S. economy, particularly the manufacturing sector. Manufacturing has seen strong job gains over the past year, including 22,000 jobs in March. However, a trade war with China could impact that growth.