March Jobs Report Shows Increase of 431,000 Jobs Added

My apologies in getting late to this but the BLS has completely revamped the way they calculate employment and all of the familiar data tables are revised. So, it takes a little longer to get to cut through the clutter and get to the data that matters.

Overall, the BLS report [DATA Here] shows 431,000 jobs regained in March from the government closures during the pandemic.

Despite the job regain number being less than expected, it’s not bad at all.

As expected, leisure and hospitality jobs [Table B-1] showed the strongest rebound with 112,000 jobs. With 25,000 job gains in hotels and 61,000 in food services (restaurants).  A little more than 2 million jobs have been regained in the last year from the COVID-19 lockdowns in this sector.

There are a few troubling indicators like a decrease in residential building jobs (-2,600), and a surprising decrease of 6,000 jobs in trucking and transportation.  Retail overall gained 49,000 jobs with most of them in the food and beverage sales sector.  However, retail furniture stores lost 1,600, electronics stores lost 1,300 and garden supply stores lost 1,900.

The retail job pattern would seem to indicate consumer spending being squeezed and priorities on spending leading to job losses in non-priority retail shops.  Boosting the disposable income concern, is a statistically significant loss of 5,000 jobs in the retail beauty and personal care stores.

On the upside, business and professional service jobs in March had a nice lift with 102,000 jobs added.

Overall, as we would expect, the national employment picture looks much like the economy that overlays it.  Jobs in food creation, sales and distribution are holding strong as a consumer priority.   However, jobs in convenience stuff, indulgent stuff, and luxury sector items are contracting.  Meanwhile the job losses in trucking are a little odd.

Wages have increased 5.6% on a yearly basis, but still significantly lags inflation.   The average workweek and overtime declined slightly in March (0.1/hrs), so there’s not any real demand side pressure visible upon the manufacturing workforce.


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