The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the March employment report earlier today showing strong job growth of 196,000 with the unemployment rate remaining 3.8%. Also, in March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4 cents to $27.70, following a 10-cent gain in February. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.2 percent.
The employment result was stronger than most analysts predicted; and comes amid stronger home sales and higher manufacturing numbers. The economy is strong, balanced and shows no signs of weakness. January and February were also revised upward by 14k.
The strong March (+196k) makes the weak February report (+33k) look like an outlier. Using January (+312k), the three-month average is now 180,000 jobs gained.
(Via CNBC) […] Economists had been expecting 175,000 jobs for March. The unemployment rate remained at 3.8% as expected.
The March employment report has become the latest in a series of better data this week, including stronger home sales and a pickup in ISM manufacturing activity. Recession fears have been fading as economists have been nudging up their expectations for GDP growth, with some seeing over 2% in the first quarter from earlier forecasts closer to 1% or lower.
“The demise of the U.S. economy has been greatly exaggerated,” said Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies. McCarthy said this year’s first quarter is following the pattern of typically weaker growth at the start of the year followed by a rebound. (read more)
Wage growth is 3.2% nationally. There are multiple regions -and multiple job sectors- where wage gains are much higher. With inflation hovering around 1.0 to 1.5 percent, real disposable income is higher for all workers. This is helping to fuel the retail sales sector gains; people are buying more stuff.