Jobs, Pay, Labor Force All Up In March

March 2016 econ indicesShrugging off concerns over global economic disarray, U.S. employers continued to hire briskly in March, adding 215,000 new jobs during the month.

This morning’s report from the U.S. Labor Department came in just ahead of what economists forecast. On a seasonally adjusted basis, private sector employers added 195,000 new non-farm jobs, with local governments accounting for the balance.

Even with January’s slow start, the U.S. is averaging 209,000 new jobs each month.

Unemployment ticked up slightly in March to 5.0 percent, a consequence of nearly 400,000 more workers joining the labor force last month. Since September, when the so-called labor force participation rate hit a 39-year low of 62.4 percent, just over 2.4 million Americans have joined the labor force. The participation rate stood at 63 percent last month.

While that pushed up the unemployment rate, as the new participants begin to search for work, it’s good news of a sort for recruiters who have been struggling to fill jobs. It’s not yet possible to tell with certainty what effect the growing labor force is having, but SHRM’s LINE report says recruiting difficulty eased last month.

Noting that fewer manufacturing and service sector HR professionals reported recruiting difficulty in March, SHRM’s report said it was the “first time since February 2014 that recruiting difficulty declined in both sectors in the same month.”

However, wages rose by an average of 7 cents an hour to $25.43 in March, climbing from a low of about 2 percent annually just a year ago to 2.3 percent. Economists were predicting that as unemployment dropped, employers would have to raise pay in order to attract workers. Despite the increased supply of labor, wages now appear to be heading up.

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Commenting to The New York Times before this morning’s jobs report, Michael Gapen, chief United States economist at Barclays said, “Wages and participation are where the rubber meets the road … We will take our cue about the overall strength of the economy based on that.”

The Labor Department report showed continued weakness in the goods-producing sector, with manufacturing losing 29,000 jobs and mining cutting 12,000, mostly due to slowdowns in the oil and gas industry.

On the plus side, construction jobs increased by 37,000. Retail, healthcare, leisure, and hospitality all had increases of five digits.


John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


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