April 24, 2018

Employment Disappointment: Just 103000 Jobs Added as Unemployment Stays at 4.1%

07 April 2018, 09:51 | Kenneth Drake

US employers add 103000 jobs in March, fewest in 6 months

March Jobs Report: Everything You Need to Know

America's job market slowed in March, but unemployment remained at its lowest level in 17 years while wage growth picked up, suggesting that the economy remains fundamentally healthy. February was revised up, to 326,000 instead of 313,000. Over the past six months, the average monthly gain has been 205,000, up from an average of 176,000 in the previous six months.

The unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent for a sixth straight month, even as people left the labor force. Average hourly earnings rose eight cents or 0.3 percent last month after edging up 0.1 percent in February.

Unemployment for teenagers fell from 14.4 percent to 13.5 percent, while the jobless rates for adult men (3.7 percent), adult women (3.7 percent), Asians (3.1 percent), blacks (6.9 percent), Hispanics (5.1 percent) and whites (3.6 percent) stayed about the same.

If job numbers like February's had become the norm, it would have had major political implications, in making the tax law passed at the end of 2017 look like an economic boon and suggesting the United States economy was in a boom that could enable it to weather whatever damage a trade war might incur.

And last month, factories expanded at a healthy pace after having grown in February at the fastest rate since 2004, according to a private survey.

Economists say annual wage growth of at least 3 percent is needed to lift inflation toward the Fed's 2 percent target.

The average workweek for employees on nomfarm payrolls held steady at 34.5 hours.

The proportion of adults in their prime working years, defined as ages 25 to 54, who are either working or looking for work jumped to 82.2 percent in February, up one-half of 1 percentage point from a year earlier. Investors expected two more rate hikes this year. Economists did not see an impact on hiring in the near-term from a recent stock market selloff, which has caused a tightening in financial conditions. Are we at a point at this late stage in a very long economic recovery, with low unemployment, and fewer people looking for work, or available to do it, where adding 100,000 jobs is about as good as it gets?

That mainly took place in the final days of the month, however. If this extends for more than a month, it's going to set up some unpleasant expectations for November.

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