Economy Adds 103,000 New Jobs in March, Unemployment Steady at 4.1 Percent

The latest jobs numbers are out from the federal government. What do they mean for job seekers and employers? Here’s a quick take from Glassdoor’s Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain:

This morning’s jobs report revealed weaker than expected job gains, with companies adding just 103,000 jobs to payrolls last month — partly due to job losses in the construction sector in March. The nation’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent, which remains close to what most economists consider a full employment economy.

Job gains in March were well below most economists’ expectations. But with an economy at full employment and after 90 consecutive months of job gains, it represents solid growth in the labor market. The economy’s “break even” pace of job gains needed to keep unemployment steady is only around 110,000 new jobs each month — making March an on-target month in terms of jobs added.

One surprise in today’s report was stronger than expected wage gains. Average hourly earnings rose 2.7 percent from a year ago, creeping above the roughly 2.5 percent to 2.6 percent pace we’ve seen over the past year. That’s good news for workers, but it’s a pace still well below the 3 percent to 4 percent pace of wage gains we enjoyed before the Great Recession. In Glassdoor’s Local Pay Reports, we’re seeing median base pay rising at a 1 percent pace from a year ago.

The sectors adding the most new jobs in March include health care and social assistance (+33,800 jobs), professional and business services (+33,000 jobs), manufacturing (+22,000 jobs), wholesale trade (+11,400 jobs) and transportation and warehousing (+9,800 jobs). The industry losing the most jobs in March was construction (-15,000 jobs), followed by retail trade (-4,400 jobs) and temporary help services (-600 jobs).

With a looming trade war and a stock market teetering on the edge of a correction, the U.S. economy is facing a lot of uncertainty in 2018. Today’s middle-of-the-road jobs report marks 105 months for the age of the current economic expansion, the third longest in U.S. history since the 1850s. Although the pace of job gains is slowing, that’s normal for this stage of the business cycle, with few unemployed workers on the sidelines available to add to payrolls.

Overall, the labor market today remains healthy, and we see strong growth in online job postings across the board on Glassdoor — something we’ll be watching closely for signs of weakness in the coming months.

To speak with Dr. Andrew Chamberlain about today’s jobs report or to discuss labor market trends, contact pr at Glassdoor dot com. For the latest economics and labor market updates, follow @adchamberlain on Twitter and subscribe to Glassdoor Economic Research.