After February’s dismal jobs report, hiring in the United States picked up in March, as 196,000 new jobs were added, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
That compared to expectations of a 179,000 job add, according to MarketWatch. It was also higher than ADP’s most recent report, which showed an increase of 129,000 jobs in March. That was down from 197,000 in February.
The payroll processor noted that March’s results were the weakest seen in the last 18 months.
But the improved jobs number from the DOL was a relief to the market, considering that a paltry 20,000 jobs were added in February. That number was upwardly revised to 33,000 in the latest report, though that was still well below expectations.
There also remains concern that hiring for the year will slow down when compared to 2018 and even the first quarter of 2019. In 2018, an average of 223,000 jobs were added each month. The average for the first quarter of 2019 — even with the weak February report — was 180,000 jobs.
Looking to the remainder of 2019, it is expected that an average of 165,000 jobs will be added per month.
Digging deeper into the monthly report, the unemployment rate held steady at 3.8%. In fact, the DOL said on Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment fell to a seasonally adjusted 202,000, the lowest number since the week of Dec. 6, 1969.
Wage growth for the trailing 12 months slowed to 3.2% from 3.4% the previous month. That amounted to a four-cent gain for average hourly earnings, coming in at $27.70 per hour.
Still, the market is expecting wage growth to see more gains given the tight labor market, with target forecasts nearing the 4% mark.
“This signals to employers that the tight labor market continues,” said Sue Holloway, director of executive compensation strategy at WorldatWork. “While slowing, job and wage growth continue, and hiring and retaining talent remain challenging.”
About the Author
Stephanie N. Rotondo is a staff writer for WorldatWork.