U.S. employment reverses course in March, rises by 196,000 jobs

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In March, the U.S. economy added 196,000 jobs, which is a significant increase from February’s 20,000, according to the latest Employment Situation Summary report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment rate held steady at 3.8%. According to the report, the number of unemployed persons also remained unchanged at 6.2 million in March.

The jobless rates for all other groups, including men at 3.6%, whites at 3.4%, Hispanics at 4.7%, women at 3.3%, teenagers at 12.8%, blacks at 6.7%, Asians at 3.1%— all showed little or no change over the month.

It is worth noting that the change in total non-farm payroll employment in January was revised to 312,000 jobs, up from 311,000. Furthermore, the change for February was revised up from 20,000 to 33,000.

With these revisions, employment gains in January and February combined were 14,000 more than previously reported.

However, the number of long-term unemployed persons held its ground at 1.3 million in March, which accounted for 21.1% of the unemployed.

The average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls climbed rose four cents to $27.70. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 3.2%.

The majority of job gains in March can be attributed to an increase in jobs in health care, professional and technical services.

Unfortunately, jobs in construction moderately increased, reflecting labor concerns expressed in the most recent National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.

Here are some of the areas that showed notable changes in March:

  • Employment in health care increased 49,000
  • Employment in professional and technical services increased 34,000
  • Employment in construction increased by 16,000

The average workweek for all employees on private non-farm payrolls inched forward 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in March.

“The 196,000 jobs added to the U.S. economy in March reversed the slowdown in February, but more importantly, it showed that job creation overall remains robust,” Mortgage Bankers Association Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting Joel Kan said. “The unemployment rate stayed at 3.8% and is still well below historical averages. The 3.2% growth in hourly earnings is good news for the housing market, as wage growth continues to more closely align with home-price gains.”

“Additionally, we saw a bounce back in construction employment last month, with a decent gain of 16,000 jobs,” Kan continued. “These developments, along with lower mortgage rates and easing price growth, lay the foundation for steady housing demand as we move further into the spring homebuying season.”

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