The Labor Market's March Muddle

April 5, 2014 10:08 AM
By Milton Ezrati

Mixed data in the monthly jobs report, including below-forecast payroll growth, underscore the sluggish recovery.

At best, the jobs report for March is a mixed bag. On April 4, the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls expanded 192,000 for the month, but a bounce was expected as a kind of a catchup for the weather-depressed rates of hiring in the three prior months. Accordingly, the consensus view of economists had expected 200,000 new jobs.  On that basis, this figure is mildly disappointing.

As if to confirm the still-sluggish hiring picture, manufacturing actually shed 1,000 jobs last month. The average workweek did expand to 34.5 hours, which adds an upbeat note, but hourly pay slipped, suggesting that firms are curtailing overtime. Typically, overtime rises before hiring picks up.

In a separate Labor Department survey, the unemployment rate stayed steady at 6.7% of the workforce. It might have continued its recent downtrend, but as has been expected for some time, some of the millions of frustrated job seekers have returned to the search, boosting the ranks of those reporting themselves unemployed. This is progress of a modest sort, but in general the March data underscore the tepid labor market the country has been living with for a long time.

Do you think the labor market will pick up steam in the months ahead, or chug along at a sluggish pace? Let us know in the Comment section, below.

You are signed in as:null

Lord Abbett welcomes your feedback on this blog. Comments will be moderated and will be published at the discretion of Lord Abbett. Please do not include personal, financial or account information or endorsement of Lord Abbett or any of its products or services in your comment. Click here to read the full text of Lord Abbett’s social media policy.

Your email will not be published. Required Fields are marked.*

No comments yet