The U.S. economy added 98,000 non-farm payroll positions in March, according to today's monthly employment report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This seasonally adjusted figure is 55.25 percent less than February's downwardly revised addition of 219,000 jobs, and falls significantly short of economists' expectation of 175,000 jobs.
The unemployment rate declined to 4.5 percent in March, the lowest rate seen since May 2007. According to The Wall Street Journal, the unemployment rate declined most among civilians with less than a high-school education, "suggesting that employers are lowering the bar in search of qualified workers to fill open spots." The labor-force participation rate held at 63.0 percent, the same rate seen in February.
Since making headlines in December, when average hourly earnings made the largest 12-month gain since 2009, wages have grown at a more measured rate. In March, employees on private non-farm payrolls saw, on average, their hourly earnings increase 0.19 percent, or $0.05, to $26.14. Wages are now 2.7 percent higher than a year prior, indicating a faster pace of recovery and a tightening job market; however, rising inflation could stifle the rate of gains. According to The Wall Street Journal, the decrease in unemployment among civilians with less than a high-school education "could partly explain the slightly muted wage growth number relative to the prior month."
The construction industry enjoyed a slight reprieve from labor shortages in January and February, when the industry added a significant amount of jobs, primarily in heavy and civil engineering, and in specialty trade contractors. Momentum slowed considerably in March, with only 6,000 positions added. The manufacturing sector saw continued gains, adding 11,000 jobs. Meanwhile, payrolls in the architectural and engineering services added 7,300 positions in March, marking the fifth consecutive month of growth.
Read the full release here.
From the BLS' historical data release: The BLS also releases detailed information subsets of key markets with a one-month lag, in this case offering more detailed information of the architectural and engineering services category's response to the broader economy's hiring slowdown, which began in June. The charts below highlight a monthly job-growth breakdown of the architectural services, landscape architectural services, and engineering and drafting services between January 2016 and January 2017. Details of these subcategories' performance in January will be revealed in next month's historical data release.