Hopes that the March report would deliver blockbuster job creation were disap-pointed. But the news was not all bad. The top-line job growth — 192,000 — fell a bit below the consensus of 200,000 and well below some optimists hopes for 300,000. However, the unemployment rate held steady at 6.7 percent despite the fact that the labor force grew by 503,000 and labor force participation rose by 0.2 percent. That is good news.
Whatever you believed last month, continue to believe it. The February jobs report did not have much news. The core story in the February report is likely the impact of bad weather on hours worked, no surprise to all of us with mental scars from days inside and snow drifts outside. Jobs were up surprisingly strongly — 175,000 — and average hourly earnings rose a sharp 4.5 percent (annual rate). Weekly earnings were flat because hours were down by 0.2 percent. Workers are making more per hour, but working less.
The January report did little to shed light on the near-term outlook. Yes the data were weak — 113,000 jobs but the unemployment rate fell to 6.6 percent despite a rise in the labor force participation rate.
The December jobs report was terrible. After a November report that was strong from stem to stern, December disappointed in every dimension: jobs grew by only 74,000, there were modest upward revisions to past jobs growth, hours worked fell, and earnings were flat to declining.
All the positive near-term news added up to the most solid jobs report in some time. Payroll jobs rose by 200,000 and the unemployment rate dropped sharply from 7.3 percent to 7.0 percent.
Just when everyone expected Washington to whack the jobs report – estimates were below 100,000 in some cases – surprise ….. 204,000 jobs. That’s the good news. Previous months were revised upward by over 60,000 jobs – even better news. The rest? Ugh.
Lackluster, tepid, listless or soft. Take your pick. The employment report indicates that job growth was slowing going into the government shutdown. Total jobs were only 148,000 and the unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent only because of a very flat labor force growth. The October report will be weak, but the data suggest that this started before the government shutdown.
The jobs report disappointed. Despite stronger real-time data leading into the report, total jobs were a mere 169,000 and the unemployment rate fell to 7.3 percent only because labor force participation fell yet again. It’s as if the economy took a month off.
While the topline came in at 162,000 jobs and the unemployment rate ticked down to 7.4 percent, looking inside this report indicates real weakness. Hours were down, earnings were down, participation was down, and there were more part time workers.
Today’s jobs report appears to be a beauty to behold, but it still reflects a labor market just treading water.