The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the March jobs report Friday. The economy added 192,000 jobs beating predictions. This is the third consecutive month of encouraging job growth after two lack luster months at the end of last year, caused largely by severe storms. Economists had predicted about 185,000 jobs.
The better news is the BLS revised its previously reported job totals for January and February upwards indicating things were not as dismal as people thought. The January jobs number was revised up from 129,000 to 144,000, and February’s total was revised from 175,000, reported last month, to 197,000. With these revisions, employment gains in January and February were 37,000 higher than previously reported.
Since more people are back looking for jobs, the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7% despite the additional jobs. At the end of March, 10.5 million people are still out of work and looking for jobs. Over 2 million of those have lost their un-employment benefits last December due to the refusal of Congress to extend benefits.
There were 698,000 discouraged workers last month, fewer than last year. Discouraged workers are people who have given up looking for work. However, the number of discouraged workers has dropped slightly for the last three months as more people are optimistic that they can find work. An additional 1.5 million are out of the workforce because of school or family responsibilities.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (involuntary part-time workers) remained at 7.4 million in March. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time work. The average work week increased by 0.2 hours in March. These numbers indicate that employers are not cutting the hours of their workforce in massive numbers because of ObamaCare as some predicted.
Despite a strong showing of private sector jobs, the federal government continues to eliminate jobs. In March, 17,500 federal workers lost their jobs including 8,500 postal workers. The federal government has been eliminating jobs for 5 years despite charges of big government. State governments also shed 2,000 jobs last month whereas local governments added 11,000 jobs to partially offset the cuts of federal and state workers.
The March numbers show a continued trend of shifting costs from the federal and state government to local governments. As Congress and state legislatures cut taxes and budgets, local governments must increase taxes and spending to fill the void.
Construction continues to be a strong sector adding 19,000 new jobs last month in spite of continued bad weather. Manufacturing lost 1,000 jobs, however employment in the production of durable goods increased offsetting losses in non-durable goods. What that means is that manufacturers see a future demand for cars, appliances, and equipment.
The leisure and hospitality industry had a great month as well adding 29,000 workers. This shows that consumers are now travelling and eating in restaurants again. Health care added nearly 20,000 jobs in March. Once again, this debunks charges that ObamaCare is killing jobs in the healthcare industry. In fact, it has increased employment in that sector for months.
The strongest sector in March was the business and professional service industry which added 57,000 employees. Retail stores rebounded in March adding 21,000 new workers.
The economy is growing, but still not as fast as needed to reduce the unemployment rate. Perhaps, Congress should focus on more on job creation, and less on taking meaningless votes to repeal ObamaCare.