March Jobs Report: U.S. Economy Added Only 88,000 Jobs; Unemployment Declined to 7.6%

by Colonel on April 5, 2013

“The Labor Department said 88,000 jobs were created in March and the unemployment rate edged lower to 7.6 percent, the lowest rate since December 2008. Let’s not sugar coat it: This was a lousy report. The results were far worse than the 175,000-200,000 expected, though many analysts were bracing for a downside surprise after a spate of disappointing data recently (weekly jobless claims spiked to a 4-month high; the ADP private sector employment report showed a lower than expected increase of 158,000 jobs; and the ISM service employment index decreased in March from February).

Besides those data points, many were lowering expectations in advance of the release by blaming Easter/spring break and of course the favorite target: Cold weather. … The unemployment rate edged lower because 496,000 left the labor force. That put the labor force participation rate at 63.3 percent, the lowest level since May 1979.

” — Jill Schlesinger, Copyright 2013 CBS Interactive Inc.

“It’d be nice to blame the sequester (the automatic spending cuts that started in March) but it doesn’t even appear to be about that.

A series of tweets from WaPo’s Zachary Goldfarb points out that this really more likely to be about the expiry of the Payroll Tax Holiday (as the job losses fell in the retail sector) rather than the sequester (seeing as there was not a big decline in professional services).

Zachary A. Goldfarb @Goldfarb

This jobs report is more a story of the impact of the payroll tax hike than the sequester.

So while retail fell 24K, that was not the case with professionals services.

Neil Irwin @Neil_Irwin

Professional and business services, which includes lots of gov’t contractors, was +51k jobs, well within its recent range.

When/if the sequester bites, then that’s yet another area for a let down.

” — Joe Weisenthal, Copyright 2013 Business Insider Inc.

Copyright 2013 The Washington Post Company / BLS

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