Unemployment holds at 3.8% as March brings 196K jobs
- The U.S. gained 196,000 nonfarm jobs in March, based on the U.S. Bureau of Statistics' (BLS) monthly jobs report. March's gain was a substantial bump over February's numbers, which hovered around 33,000 jobs, according to an update from BLS. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.8%.
- The industries with the highest jobs gains were healthcare (49,000), professional and technical services (34,000), and food services and drinking establishments (27,000). Little change occurred in construction and manufacturing, two previously high job growth industries.
- March also showed little change in the number of labor-force participants, currently at 63%. Unemployment rates broken out by age and race also remained steady, including adult men (3.6%), adult women (3.3%), teenagers (12.8%), whites (3.4%), blacks (6.7%), Asians (3.1%) and Hispanics (4.7%).
Monthly job reports provide snapshots of current labor force activity rather than a forecast of where the economy is headed. As March's job numbers surged past February's meager gain of 33,000 jobs, this report may provide a sign that the economy remains on a steady course.
The New York Times reported that although March's jobs results don't shine compared to reports from the last few years, the economy doesn't appear to be declining, at least not any time soon, despite numerous fears in the C-suite. According to the Times, February's dismal job numbers seem more like a fluke. As a possible sign of more optimism for the economy, the Times reported that the economy has gained an average of 207,000 new jobs a month during the last six months, exceeding 2017 figures and falling only slightly behind 2018's.
A steady economy with continuous job gains means more recruiting challenges for employers, who will likely continue to feel the pressure of a skills shortage in an employee-driven labor market, marked by record-low unemployment. Employers might also need to keep revising their recruiting strategies to attract and retain talent and step up their investment in training and development to build an engaged and productive workforce.