The March jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) missed estimates by a wide margin, with nonfarm payrolls rising 103,000 versus estimates of 180,000. However, an extremely strong February report was revised up to 326,000 total jobs, while January was revised downward by 63,000 jobs.
According to The Wall Street Journal, hiring has picked up overall in 2018. It reported this past weekend after Friday’s job report came in with gains and an unemployment rate of 4.1%,
Note, however, that the average for Q1 of 202,000 monthly jobs growth is below the Q4 2017 average of 221,000.
FIGURE 1: NONFARM PAYROLLS (MONTHLY AND YEARLY CHANGE)
New Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell was upbeat on the jobs recovery and the overall state of the economy in a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago on Friday, April 6, the same day as the March jobs report release. Powell said, in part,
Bespoke Investment Group highlighted two other aspects of the job report in their weekly market update:
FIGURE 2: JOBS GROWTH VS. LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE
Bespoke also noted regarding wage growth, “It was also an okay month for wage growth. As shown in the chart (Figure 3), wage growth has continued to move higher over the last few years but is by no means accelerating dramatically.” Average hourly earnings for March were up 2.7% from the previous year, which was right about at expectations in a continuing slow, but steady, trend higher over the past two to three years.
FIGURE 3: WAGE GROWTH IMPROVES SLOWLY