US Adds 103000 Jobs in March, Below Forecasts

REUTERS  Jonathan Alcorn

REUTERS Jonathan Alcorn

With labour market slack diminishing, wage growth picked up a bit in March. The job market is widely regarded to be close to full employment. Exports and business investments have increased, and Ontario's unemployment rate has been below the national average each month for nearly three years.

More people who had given up looking for work are renewing their job hunts, more employees are confident enough to quit to look for other jobs and pay is gradually picking up. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have risen by 71 cents, or 2.7%. More than 2.5 million jobs have been added to the economy since President Trump took office in January 2017 and almost 3 million have been added since his election in November 2016.

The monthly Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released this morning shows that nonfarm payroll employment rose by 103,000 in March.

Last month's modest job gain could indicate some employers want to hire more but are struggling to find the workers they need. That figure is still impressive, economists say, given that the nation is in its ninth year of economic expansion and the labor force is growing much more slowly than it was before the recession. Daniel's firm, based in Herndon, Virginia, provides services to hospitals, such as valet parking and "sitters", who stay with elderly or mentally ill patients after they've been sent home from operations.

"The question that looms large now is how trade talks will impact hiring in the second quarter", he said in a note warning of the economy "now entering a treacherous phase".

Some of the drop-off in hiring for March was likely weather-related, with late spring snowstorms blanketing the Northeast, closing construction sites and potentially postponing shopping trips. Leisure and hospitality employers added only 5,000 jobs last month, the least since September.

Construction shed 15,000 jobs and retail trade employment dipped by 4,000. Professional and business services, which includes fields such as accounting and architecture, gained 33,000 positions. The economy needs to create roughly 100,000 jobs per month to keep up with growth in the working-age population. In March, the Fed announced to raised interest rate to a range of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent, marking the sixth time since the financial crisis that it has raised rates.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Friday that such measures "suggest a labor market that is in the neighborhood of maximum employment", meaning that few workers are still on the sidelines and a further decline in the unemployment rate could raise inflation.

Rather, there has been gradual improvement underway for many years that continues apace.

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