Economy still faces challenge

Investors will likely be relieved at the pick-up in hiring with the last two months showing above average annual gains. However, there is clearly a challenge ahead if the economy is to retain its earlier momentum. The prior 12 months saw employment growth in excess of 200,000 on five occasions. March not only delivered a solid employment picture, but was accompanied by decent revisions that helped dull the memory of a harsh winter.

Headline employment rose by 192,000 and that number is now down from a revised February report showing the economy added 197,000 positions that month. In all, the report delivered a net positive two-month revision of 37,000 leaving the economy generating 183,000 positions on average throughout the past 12-months. And while the headline unemployment rate stood still at 6.7%, of added encouragement is the fact that the household side of the report reflected an employment gain of 476,000 while at the same time the number of unemployed rose by just 27,000. As a result the labor force participation rate edged ahead by 0.2% to 63.2%.

Charts shows rrofessional and hospitality jobs show growth.

Most sectors added a decent slew of jobs in March in a sign that employers are warming to hiring as they feel the subtleties of strengthening final demand. Retailers, for example, by adding 21,000 positions all but wiped out total losses sustained over two prior readings. Professional hiring rose by a solid 57,000, down from a February gain of 81,000, which was the strongest in exactly one year.

That number included the addition of 29,000 temporary workers typically read as a precursor to sustained hiring. Construction companies added 19,000 workers while mining and logging industries added 7,000 positions. Food services companies added 30,000 positions lifting the annual change to 323,000 positions. Leisure and hospitality added 29,000 positions. Net government hiring was flat during the month.


About the Author
Andrew Wilkinson

Andrew is a seasoned trader and commentator of global financial markets. He worked for several London-based banks trading cash and derivatives before moving to the U.S. to attend graduate school. Andrew re-joins Interactive Brokers following a two-year stretch at a major Wall Street broker-dealer as their Chief Economic Strategist. His coverage of stocks, options, futures, forex and bonds regularly surfaces in global media, and over the last several years Andrew has made many TV appearances on Bloomberg, BBC, CNBC and BNN and Yahoo Finance.

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