The U.S. Jobs Report: March 2012

The United States Employment Situation for March indicates a cooling of job growth that is consistent with our forecast, although somewhat more pronounced than our forecast. It was the services part of the economy that had the greatest slowdown in job creation, from 204 thousand in February down to 90 thousand in March. And, a little bit over half of that drop was a decline in “Temporary Help Services”. Large January and February gains in that sector may have been truly temporary. In contrast with services, the goods-producing segment of the economy maintained the same job creation rate of about 30 thousand that was the case in February. The public sector lost about a thousand jobs.

The March Employment Situation also indicates that the establishment and household surveys continued to provide inconsistent signals, a phenomenon that has been in place for about a year now. While the establishment survey indicates a rise of 120 thousand jobs, the household survey indicates a fall of 31 thousand jobs.

The number of unemployed fell by 133 thousand, which is good. However, much of the decline was a result of a decline in the workforce. The long-term unemployed did not change, remaining at 5.3 million persons. This is about 3.4 percent of the labor force.

With the March data undercutting our forecast of an average monthly change of 237 thousand for the first quarter, our second quarter forecast of 187 thousand may be revised down as well.

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