BLS Releases March 2019 Employment Situation (April 2019)
Nonfarm employment added 196,000 jobs in March, a result more in line with expectations than the scant, 33,000 jobs added in February. The unemployment rate remained steady at 3.8 percent and hourly wages increased modestly.
Averaging over the first three months of 2019 results in a solid 180,000 job growth, which amounts to nearly double its underlying demographic trend (Approximately 100,000 people enter the labor market each month). Job gains occurred across a wide range of sectors in March including health care, professional and technical services, food and drinking places, and construction. Health care added 49,000 jobs, mainly in ambulatory health care services and hospitals. Professional and technical services added 34,000, food service and drinking places added 27,000, and construction added 16,000. Manufacturing employment showed little change for the second month in a row (-6,000 in March, following +1,000 in February).
Despite stronger jobs growth, the unemployment rate remained unchanged in March. During the month, the labor force participation rate showed little change at 63.0 percent. The employment rate—or employment-to-population ratio (EPOP or the percentage of adults with jobs)—showed little change as well at 60.6.
The tighter labor market is showing some dividends in wage growth. The average hourly wage is up 3.2 percent over the last year; over the last three months (December, January, and February), the annualized rate was up 3.3 percent. With the core rate of inflation at 2.1 percent, increased hourly wages translate to modest real wage gains.
In sum, this is a mostly positive jobs report. The pace of job growth that began eight years ago is continuing, with the economy adding a total of 2.5 million jobs over the past twelve months. This growth rate is pulling more workers into the labor market, which is now tight enough to produce real wage gains.
The full BLS press release on the March 2019 employment situation can be accessed in the link below:
The next employment situation report for April 2019 will be released on Friday, May 3, 2019.