The American economy gained 196,000 jobs last month. We need 90,000 new jobs just to keep up with population growth, which means that net job growth clocked in at 106,000 jobs. The unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent.
Behind the headline number, the number of people in the labor force dropped by 369,000 and the number of employed people dropped by 201,000. The labor participation rate dropped from 63.2 percent to 63 percent, losing its recent gains and continuing its long-term record of flatness since 2016. These aren’t great numbers, especially after such a weak February report.
Earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers increased at an annualized rate of 3.2 percent in March. With inflation running at about 1.5 percent lately, this means blue collar workers saw an increase of 1.7 percent at an annualized rate. That’s not bad.
Overall, this is a mediocre jobs report. The top line number is sort of average, but the underlying numbers are pretty weak, especially since we’d normally expect a bigger rebound after February’s poor report. It’s not a reason to panic, perhaps, but it’s hardly great news, either. Time for a rate cut?