Economy Watch: Economy Creates 192K Jobs in March

The U.S. economy created 192,000 jobs in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

The U.S. economy created 192,000 jobs in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. Employment increased in a number of industries, such as healthcare and professional services, while the federal government continued to shed jobs (though state and local governments are hiring again). Job growth has averaged 183,000 per month over the previous 12 months, so the current report is now stronger than the tepid January and February hiring totals.

The unemployment rate, which is based on a separate survey by the bureau, remained the same at 6.7 percent for the month. The BLS measurement of unemployment known as U-6, which includes the unemployed who are actively looking for work, but also discouraged workers and part-time workers looking for full-time work but who can’t find it, came in at 12.7 percent, an uptick from 12.6 percent in February. The U-6 a year ago was 13.8 percent.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that for the week ending March 29, initial unemployment claims were at an annualized rate of 326,000, an increase of 16,000 from the previous week’s revised figure. The four-week moving average, which is less jumpy, was down a bit to 319,500, a decrease of 250 from the previous week.

Non-manufacturing sector expands in March

Economic activity in the U.S. non-manufacturing sector grew in March for the 50th consecutive month, according to the latest Institute for Supply Management survey of the nation’s purchasing and supply executives. The ISM non-manufacturing index came in at a stronger 53.1 percent in March, 1.5 percentage points higher than February’s reading of 51.6 percent.

Among the overall index’s components, the Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased to 53.4 percent, which is 1.2 percentage points lower in February, reflecting growth but at a slower rate. The New Orders Index came in at 53.4 percent, 2.1 percentage points higher than in February. The Employment Index increased 6.1 percentage points to 53.6 percent from February, meaning that expansion in March followed contraction in February.

According to the non-manufacturing index, 13 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in March. Despite the affects of weather on various businesses, the majority of respondents replied that business conditions are improving. The respondents also project better business activity and economic conditions as the weather continues to improve.

Wall Street had a down day ahead of the jobs numbers, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing a mere 0.45 points, or essentially breaking even. The S&P declined 0.11 percent and the Nasdaq was down a meatier 0.91 percent.

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