US Economy
US nonfarm payroll employment rose by 192,000 in March
By Finfacts Team
Apr 4, 2014 - 3:18 PM

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US nonfarm payroll employment rose by 192,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7%. Employment increased in professional and business services, in health care, and in mining and logging.

Incorporating the revisions for January and February, which increased total nonfarm employment by 37,000 on net, monthly job gains have averaged 178,000 over the past 3 months. In the 12 months prior to March, employment growth averaged 183,000 per month.All of the net job growth in March occurred in the private sector, which now has exceeded its employment level in December 2007, when the most recent recession began. The private sector lost 8.8m jobs during the labor market downturn and has gained 8.9m since the employment low in February 2010. However, government employment is down since the recession began (-535,000), and therefore total nonfarm employment remains below (-422,000) its December 2007 level.In March, employment in professional and business services rose (+57,000) in line with the prior 12-month average. Within the industry, temporary help services added 29,000 jobs in March. Employment growth in temporary help services had averaged 20,000 per month in the prior 12 months.Health care employment rose by 19,000 in March, with gains in ambulatory health care services (which includes home health care and outpatient care centers). In the prior 12 months, job growth in health care had averaged 17,000 per month, with most of the growth occurring in ambulatory care. In March, nursing care facilities lost 5,000 jobs.Employment in mining and logging rose by 7,000 in March, led by gains in support activities for mining (+5,000). Mining and logging has added 38,000 jobs over the year. Employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up in March (+30,000). This industry has added 323,000 jobs over the year. Employment continued to trend up in construction in March (+19,000) and is up by 151,000 over the past 12 months. Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, and retail trade, changed little in March. Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged lower by 1 cent in March, after rising by 9 cents in February. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.1%. From February 2013 to February 2014, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose by 1.1%. In March, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased to 34.5 hours, offsetting a net decline over the prior 3 months. Turning now to the survey of households, the unemployment rate, at 6.7%, was unchanged in March, and the number of unemployed persons remained at 10.5m. The number of unemployed persons who had been jobless for 27 weeks or more was little changed (3.7m). These individuals accounted for 35.8% of the unemployed. Both the civilian labor force and total employment increased in March. The labor force participation rate (63.2%) and the employment-population ratio (58.9%) changed little over the month. Among persons who were neither working nor looking for work in March, 2.2m were classified as marginally attached to the labor force, little changed from a year earlier. (These individuals had not looked for work in the 4 weeks prior to the survey but wanted a job, were available for work, and had looked for a job within the last 12 months.) The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, edged down over the year to 698,000 in March. In summary, employment rose by 192,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7%.

Marcus Bullus, trading director of MB Capital, commented: "The equity markets got exactly what they wished for - healthy rather than hyperbolic job growth, and the likelihood that the taper pace will stay put.

"While upward revisions to the February figure mean the March number is technically a fall in the rate of job creation, it is still bang on trend.

"The upshot is the US economy is growing at a steady rather than stellar rate, and Janet Yellen is unlikely to tinker with the rate of taper.

"The Fed is now set to continue its accommodative approach, weaning the US economy off its money-printing stimulus at the current gentle pace.

"All this is balm for the anxious equity markets, and the prospect of more 'steady as she goes' monetary policy has sent Treasuries down and stocks climbing toward new highs."

Prof Peter Morici of % University of Maryland commented: "The economy created 192,000 jobs in March, down from 197,000 in February, and still well below the pace needed to lower underemployment to respectable levels. Those mediocre results are consistent with a broadly underperforming economy.

Manufacturing employment lost 1,000 jobs, and government stalled. Other than construction, which gained 19,000 employees, most new positions were in lower paying activities like leisure and hospitality, support activities in health care, retail, and temporary business services.

Hourly earnings fell, indicating good jobs continue to be scarce.

In 2013, GDP growth was only 1.9%, thanks to the $200 billion January tax increase and federal spending cuts, but after a slow first quarter, most economists expect the pace to accelerate to 3% by the second half of this year.

Improved prospects are raising home values and President Obama is not likely to get from Congress the higher taxes in his budget proposal. Jobs creation is likely to be in the range of 200,000 per month; however, should the president get the higher taxes he wants, the situation would worsen.

Global growth is rebalancing from Asia to the Atlantic community, as Europe shakes off the worst of its sovereign and bank debt problems, and this will reduce vulnerabilities to dodgy financial practices and economic nationalism in places like China, Japan and Latin America.

Though the shenanigans on Wall Street—ranging from high-speed traders stealing from ordinary investors to the endless imagination of the casino gamblers at the big banks—continue to threaten financial stability, the Federal Reserve and other U.S. regulatory agencies are proving more diligent than during the Bush years.

This spring more robust household formation should push housing starts above 1 million this year for the first time since 2007. The burdens of student debt require that many new dwellings be apartments, but surging residential construction will boost sales of pickup trucks so ubiquitous on construction sites, and employment in industries supporting housing and motor vehicles.

In February, unemployment was steady at 6.7%, and the percentage of adults employed or seeking a job—the so-called participation rate—rose slightly but remains well below pre-recession levels.

Factoring in adults on the sidelines who say they would seek employment if conditions were better and part-timers desiring full-time work, the jobless rate becomes 12.7% and that likely understates the scope of the problem. One in six men between ages 25 and 54 are jobless, and many displaced spouses in formerly two-earner families have become reconciled to permanent unemployment.

The economy needs to add about 340,000 jobs each month to push unemployment down to an acceptable level but that would require GDP growth in the range of 4 to 5%. Instead, slow growth and jobs creation pins down wages and frustrates the unemployed and new high school and college graduates.

Over the last four and one-half years, the pace of GDP growth has been a paltry 2.3%—about the same as during the Bush expansion. President Reagan inherited a much tougher unemployment situation than Obama, yet he managed 4.8% growth and created many more jobs.

The defining difference between the recent two disappointing economic recoveries and the strong record of the 1980s has been the predisposition of presidents from both parties to champion politically-expedient remedies—bailouts and entitlements that steal money from promising R&D, public infrastructure and private investment to bolster inefficient automakers and hospitals, abusive banks and traders, and decadent universities and other non-profits.

In addition, the failure to properly craft and enforce trade agreements with China, Japan and Germany, and to develop oil and gas off-shore and in Alaska has imposed a $475 billion trade deficit and lowers growth by two percentage points a year.

With a lighter but still effective touch to regulation, fewer entitlements that discourage job seekers and employers alike and recognition that America must play its strengths in a globalized economy, well meaning but ill-conceived economic policies will continue to beat down growth and the hopes and dreams of American workers."

Jim O’Sullivan, chief economist at High Frequency Economics commented: "In short, a fairly healthy rise in payrolls, albeit with the help of a reversal of weather effects. With the revisions, gains averaged 178,000 in Q1, not significantly different from last year’s 194,000 per month average. Meanwhile, the flat unemployment rate, helped by the rise in the participation rate, along with the tame earnings data – albeit due to payback for February – and the rise in involuntary part-time employment will reinforce the case of Fed officials arguing that tightening is still a long way away."

What the jobs numbers mean

 


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