Is the Economy Slowing? Not Yet. 196,000 Jobs Added in March

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 and Senior Economist Daniel Zhao:

This morning’s jobs report revealed another month of robust job gains, with employers adding 196,000 new jobs to payrolls, beating most economists’ expectations. The nation’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.8 percent, the lowest in two decades.

Wage growth slowed slightly in the March report, with average hourly wages up 3.2 percent from a year ago — down from 3.4 percent last month. That’s broadly consistent with trends we see in our Local Pay Reports at Glassdoor, in which wage growth has moderated this year despite the continued strong economy.

One weak spot in the March jobs report was labor force participation. Last month, the percentage of Americans in the labor force fell slightly to 63.0 percent (down from 63.2 percent), shrinking the labor force by roughly 224,000 workers. However, the demographic wave of retiring Baby Boomers is likely behind this trend, rather than underlying weakness in the job market.

Today’s strong jobs report will likely reassure investors. With many headwinds facing the economy — including the worst December for stock markets since the Great Depression, the longest-ever government shutdown in January, rising trade tensions with China, lower GDP growth forecasts for 2019, a fading tax stimulus, and, a recent inversion of the yield curve — analysts are looking for signs of a broader slowdown in hiring. Today’s overall strong report shows few signs of weakness.

Among industries, the strongest job gains in March were in the healthcare industry, adding 61,000 jobs—solid growth for an industry serving an increasingly aging population. Professional and business services (+37,000 jobs) and leisure and hospitality (+33,000) also saw strong job gains. Blue-collar industries saw weaker job growth, some even shrinking—transportation and warehousing (+7,300), mining and logging (+2,000), wholesale trade (-2,000), manufacturing (-6,000) and retail trade (-11,700). Construction too saw middling job gains (+16,000), but still a nice recovery from a weak February, likely caused by temporary weather disruptions.

Today’s March jobs report marks 102 consecutive months of positive job gains — an all-time record since the 1930s. If the U.S. economy continues to grow through the end of June, we’ll be in uncharted territory in terms of the length of time the American economy has gone without a recession — something we’ll be watching closely this summer.

To speak with Dr. Andrew Chamberlain or Daniel Zhao 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 and @danielbzhao on Twitter and subscribe to Glassdoor Economic Research.