Friday :: Apr 1, 2005

March Jobs Report And Consumer Confidence Less Than Expected


by Steve

Yesterday, we were told that weekly first-time filings for unemployment insurance jumped last week up to the 350,000 level, the highest they have been in months. But analysts told us yesterday in essence "don’t worry, first quarter GDP, and other indicators are up, plus we expect tomorrow the Labor Department to report that another 220,000 jobs were added in March. All is good."

Guess again. Today, the Labor Department reported that only half that number of new jobs were created in March. Worse yet, the previously-touted February figures were revised lower as well. Real wages have now fallen 0.3% over the last two years, and we still have a lower level of private sector employment now than we did at the beginning of the last recession.

Payroll growth across the country was sluggish in March as employers added just 110,000 jobs, the fewest since July. The 110,000 jobs added in March marked the smallest gain since last July, when payrolls grew by a tepid 83,000... March's payroll gain was half of the roughly 220,000 jobs that economists had forecast before the report was released. Job gains for February, meanwhile, were revised slightly downward to 243,000 from the initial 262,000 reported a month ago.
"It wasn't a banner month for the average American worker. We had job growth but not enough to absorb the still large number of unemployed and underemployed people," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com. "The job market is not in full swing."
For jobseekers it is still a difficult climate. There were 7.7 million people unemployed in March with the average duration of 19.5 weeks without work, the highest since November.
The share of the working-age population working or actively seeking a job in March continued to hold steady at 65.8 percent, a nearly 17-year low first reached in January.

This reports comes at a time when another report showed that manufacturing activity leveled off in March. In fact, while the lower paying service sector added jobs in March, manufacturing lost another 8,000 jobs in the month.

Consumer confidence fell last month as well, according to the University of Michigan survey.

Steve :: 8:52 AM :: Comments (15) :: Digg It!