The economy added 192,000 new jobs in March, and the unemployment rate remained steady at 6.7 percent. The report, while hardly disastrous, missed the very high expectations of many economists going into Friday's release. Economists expected to see 200,000 new jobs in March, and a slight downtick of the unemployment rate from 6.7 percent to 6.6 percent. As MarketWatch noted in its poll of economists, some predicted to see an even larger jobs number, more in the range of 250,000 new jobs for March.
Basically, March's jobs report was something of a reckoning for one theory used to excuse December and January's poor jobs numbers: the terrible winter weather. If it was really the weather, then March's report should show increased hiring, the theory went. That's why the estimate for today's report was so high, even after a handful of dismal numbers in recent months. In February's initial report, the economy added 175,000 jobs, which also helped to boost up today's estimates. The March report actually revised the February number upwards, however, to 197,000 new jobs. Despite missing the high expectations going in to today's report, many seem to think the numbers do indeed indicate a recovery from December and January.
Here are a few more tidbits from today's report:
- The average hourly workweek rose to 34.5 hours, from 34.3 hours. That tick upward offsets a net decline in the average workweek over the past three months.
- Average hourly earnings dropped by one cent to $24.30. Last month, that number rose dramatically, by nine cents or a 0.4 percent increase.
- All of the jobs gains in March were from the private sector: government job numbers remained unchanged.
The full report is here.