Published: Sun, April 09, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

US adds just 98K jobs; unemployment falls to a low 4.5 pct

US adds just 98K jobs; unemployment falls to a low 4.5 pct

All told, the U.S. economy added just 98,000 jobs in March, well shy of the 180,000 economists predicted and down from February's gain of 219,000 jobs.

The fear is that further legislative delays could weigh on business and consumer confidence, which soared following the election, Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West economics, wrote in a note in late March. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released April 7 show another monthly increase in the number of mining jobs, which includes oil and gas extraction.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent in March, the lowest level in almost a decade, from 4.7 percent, and an encouraging sign for the job market.

No matter which details one chooses to home in on, Piegza said, there is no denying a sizable pullback in headline job creation, with first-quarter hiring averaging just 178,000 per month.

"For the Fed, the unemployment rate is the ultimate arbiter of the tightness of the labor market, and the prospect of the rate continuing to fall towards 4% will be very disconcerting", he wrote.

The economy needs to create 75,000 to 100,000 jobs per month to keep up with growth in the working-age population and some Federal Reserve officials view the labor market as being at full employment.

A broad measure of unemployment, that includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they can not find full-time employment, fell to 8.9 per cent, the lowest level since December 2007, from 9.2 per cent in February.

But the household survey is more volatile from month to month. The unemployment rate for teens dropped to 13.7 percent from 15 percent.

Effectively, the average hourly earnings rose at an annual pace of roughly 2.7 percent, in March, following that 2.8 percent increase from February. Though the temporary agency penetration rate has only risen less than four basis points in the last two years, we anticipate more new highs in this metric during 2017. Anticipation of continued labour market improvement has led central bank policy-makers to signal two more hikes are coming this year. Wages increased 2.7 per cent for the 12 months ended March 31. Retail trade lost 30,000 jobs, while manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, leisure and hospitality, and information saw little change during the month, it said. Manufacturing employment advanced by 11,000 jobs, slowing from the 26,000 positions created in February.

One is called the payroll survey. About 29,700 retail jobs were cut in March, and the vast majority were from department stores that sell everything from furniture to vegetables.

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