U.S. Economy Adds Just 88,000 Jobs in March; Unemployment Rate Falls to 7.6%

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Roughly one year ago, many of us were encouraged by a string of positive jobs reports which showed the economy was adding on average 275,000 jobs per month. And then came the spring swoon, ushering in a long stretch in which the economy struggled to add even enough jobs to keep up with population growth. While the unemployment rate continued to fall slowly throughout the year, much of that progress was due to workers dropping out of the labor force altogether.

So while the Labor Department’s employment situation reports have been generally positive since November of last year, economy-watchers have been wary of declaring the beginning of a robust labor market recovery just yet, especially when tax increases and spending cuts are almost certainly taking some of the spring out the economy’s step. And with today’s announcement from the Labor Department that the economy added just 88,000 jobs in March, those fears would appear to be legitimate.

But, you say, the unemployment rate fell last month, from 7.7% to 7.6%. What gives? It’s important to remember that the new-jobs figure and the unemployment rate are derived from two different surveys. The former is gleaned from a survey of business, called the “establishment” survey, while the latter is drawn from a poll of ordinary citizens, called the “household” survey.

And, oddly enough, the establishment survey — which gives us the disappointing 88,000 new-jobs figure, was actually a much better report than at first glance, while the household survey, from which we draw the unemployment rate, is actually a lot worse than the headline drop in the unemployment rate suggests.

While 88,000 jobs per month is surprisingly low — economists were expecting somewhere near 200,000 new jobs in March — there were upward revisions in the estimates for job growth in January and February. The new job growth estimate for January was revised from +119,000 to +148,000, and the February estimate was revised upwards from +236,000 to +268,000. Taken together with the March job growth estimate, these revisions means there are 146,000 more jobs than we had previously thought — a much more respectable figure.

On the other hand, though the unemployment rate dropped from 7.7% to 7.6%, this change looks to be almost entirely due to a decline in the labor participation rate, as nearly half a million people decided to drop out of the labor force altogether. This could be due to aging workers retiring, or because people have become so discouraged with the job market that they’ve just stopped looking. Either way, such a large decline in the participation rate is not indicative of a quickly recovering economy.

The report does perhaps show evidence that we’re finally feeling the effects of the recent payroll tax increases, as the retail sector shed 24,000 jobs. Another big drag on growth was the Postal Service, which let go 12,000 workers in March.

All in all, this is a disappointing report, but not as bad as it looks at first glance. The continued decline in the labor force participation rate is probably the single most worrying data point. We should expect that this number will decline as the workforce ages, but the speed of this decline can’t be explained just by demographics.

With any luck, we can put this lackluster report behind us next month, but today’s report gives us one more reason to believe today’s uninspired labor market will be with us for some time to come.

98 comments
MarionValentine
MarionValentine

Some good reasons to vote GOP in 2014
PROOF
CONSERVATIVE POLICIES WORK. LIBERAL POLICIES DON'T
Unemployment and Job Creation:
States with Republican governors have a 7.6% unemployment rate
States with Democratic governors have an 8.6% unemployment rate
Top
5 states with the largest unemployment rate drops over the last 12
months have GOP governors, led by Nevada, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi
and Ohio.
Over the last 12 months, the unemployment rate in Republican-led states
has decreased faster than in states with Democratic governors.
Over the last 12 months, states with Republican governors have added nearly
1.4 million jobs, accounting for more than 60% of the nation’s job
growth.
CNBC
recently released its annual rankings of top states for business and
the list was led by states with Republican governors:
4 of 5 top states have GOP governors
8 of 10 top states have GOP governors 12 of 15 top states have GOP governors
More states with GOP governors topped this year’s list than one year ago. In 2011:
3 of 5 top states had GOP governors
6 of 10 top states had GOP governors
11 of 15 top states had GOP governors
Pollina Corporate Real Estate Inc. Ranking:
9 of 10 top pro-business states as ranked by Pollina are led by Republican governors, led by Virginia.
Site Selection Magazine:
9 of 10 most competitive states as ranked by Site Selection are led by Republican governors, led by Virginia.
8 of 10 states with the most new and expanded corporate facilities have Republican governors, led by Ohio.
Area Development:
8 of 10 top states for business according to Area Development have GOP governors, led by Texas.
Chief Executive:
9 of 10 best states in which do business according to Chief Executive are led by GOP governors. Forbes:
10 of 15 best states for business have GOP governors, led by Utah.
9 of 10 best states for jobs have GOP governors, led by Texas
Business Facilities:
10 of 10 states for best business climate according to Business Facilities are led by GOP governors, led by Texas.

UPDATE: April 2013
Interestingly, there is a high correspondence between
Ideology and Party Dominance. The 25 states dominated by the Republican
Party have an average Ideology (‘conservative advantage’) score of 24.6
and an average unemployment rate of 6.67. The 15 states dominated by
Democrats have an average Ideology score of 6.45 and an unemployment
rate of 7.55. The 10 Split states have a very-near average 17.31 score
and unemployment rate of a middling 7.12.
http://www.ijreview.com/2013/0...

aConservative
aConservative

Obama doesn't care about jobs, no Marxist does.

ALL Marxists steal from Peter to buy Paul's vote.

Peter has a job and Paul doesn't want one....

(BLS and Census Bureau numbers - USA only)


January 2009:

Employed: 142,099,000

Unemployed: 11,616,000

Not in labor force: 81,023,000

Civilian labor force - 153,716,000

US Population: 305,980,000


March 2013:

Employed: 143,286,000

Unemployed: 11,742,000

Not in labor force: 89,967,000

Civilian labor force: 155,028,000

US Population: 315,618,000


During the Obama Reign Of Terror:

9,638,000 more Americans living

8,944,000 fewer jobs (Not in labor force)


90 million Americans want to work but Obama is too incompetent to find them jobs……

JohnKriegsmann
JohnKriegsmann

We need to man up and post the accurate U-6 unemployment that includes discouraged workers and folks working part time who are looking for full time work. The U-6 rate currently stands at 14%. The U-6 statistic was used from 1937-1996 when Bill Clinton changed it to make his jobs numbers look better. In all reality we are in a jobs depression which remains camoflaged due to extended unemployment, food stamps and disability programs.

WesLee
WesLee

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-1 :  Total employed in February was 143,492,000.  Total employed in March was 143,287,000.  Change in employment Feb to Mar was a net loss of 205,000.

rhendrickson
rhendrickson

typical Time reporter, with a memory of max 12 months.  Whyncha refer back to the Deep Past, y'know-- 2009, 2010, 2011, during each spring from which issued bullish claims of Recovery Summer, Green Shoots, whatever was the O'Bowel bilge du jour.  But no, you, Mr Matthews, have the memory and outlook of a 6 year old.

ChugiakTea
ChugiakTea

"many of us were encouraged by a string of positive jobs reports"--many of who? Many of the Pres Obama water toting liberal media? I am seriously concerned with the objectivity of a media who wants to act shocked that we are not lurching out of the economic malaise. There has not really been a series of normal recession recovery numbers in the last 5 years. Get over it folks this economy is being suppressed by poor leadership and government overreach, period.

DanielCazalis
DanielCazalis

When we were finally on the road for a strong recover, the republicans only proposal ever, was a job killer sequester; Obama was right; the sequester is a killer.

DanielCazalis
DanielCazalis

A direct hit by the sequester to our economic recover?

jeff.morgan974
jeff.morgan974

Yes it is as bad as it looks Chris, in fact it is worse because there are no solutions being offered by the political class.  Their solution is more spending errrr..... investment and more taxes of which this small businessman has had his fill.  Fake numbers and false statistics.  Yeah and that savings we are all going to see with healthcare might explain why my company is seeing a spike of 34% in cost over last year which was up 15% from the year before and another 12% the year before that.  Higher percentages than ever seen since I was in business since 1990.  Looks like I am going to have to add to the entitled crowd if this keeps up.  Anyhow Nancy Pelosi says I am actually stimulating the economy by laying people off so they can collect so I guess all is well in fantasy land.

curt3rd
curt3rd

Whats this? Raising taxes are bad for the economy?

DuffMinster
DuffMinster

The number of people not in the labor force soared by a massive 663,000  in March to a record 90 million Americans who are no longer even looking for work.  But the truth is, many if not most of them are looking for work.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics model and terminology is misleading.  From my perspective it seems that the Fed policy (which is to print money and give it to Giant Broker Banks, through the Bond REPO, POMO and other operations) serves only to prop up banks, who if they had to mark all their "assets" to market rather than some myth of their own concoction, would be largely insolvent, and it also creates serial bubbles, in stocks, a new housing bubble, etc.   In the meantime, almost none of that money reaches main street, small business, start ups, or other potential job creators.  The velocity of money is proportional to economic growth and the current Fed policy results in lots of money being printed but only injected into a closed loop system where the weight of derivatives and the highly questionable asset valuations absorbs all the money and the TBTF make money in stock index futures and synthetic paper (derivatives), using non-productive resources such as high frequency trading, shadow banking, dark pools and the like.   In the meantime, American workers see their jobs continue to be shipped over seas along with corresponding tax revenues.  Unless the Fed and the Congress find a means to shift some of the "stimulus" to the real economy, stop allowing these rip off diploma mills to put our kids into educational debtors prison to the tune of over $1 trillion, and actually start looking at for the nation as whole, there is chaos ahead in my opinion.   If you believe the shills who pass for journalists and who couldn't publish an investigative piece with substance on the level of corruption in the revolving door between government and Wall Street if they wanted to, everything is just fine and the Fed's policy is lifting all boats.  Truth is, the unemployment rate is closer to 20% when you count the number of people the BLS are "not in the labor force" who are actually out looking for work every day.   Just because they stopped receiving an unemployment check, doesn't mean they are not trying to find work.  As far as I can see, its QE forever.  Whoelse will buy US government debt when the credibility of Congress to actually address long term sovereign solvency seems like a bad TV drama at best and more like a bunch of 3 year olds with temper tantrums and a complete lack of real statesmanship or any spirit of cooperation whatsoever.  They are doing the bidding of their monetary masters and not the work of running the nation.  It is truly shameful in my opinion.

CharlesEdwardBrown
CharlesEdwardBrown

Millions of jobs could be created if the Federal Government just did their job and enforce our immigration laws and deported the millions of illegal aliens living and working in the United States.

ptcruiser5850
ptcruiser5850

It is taking fewer and fewer jobs to drop the unemployment rate.  It appears the problem could be solved with just  another million 29 hr per week, $7.50 per hour jobs. That would be less than the money promised to Jordan.

JimStarowicz
JimStarowicz

Tick, tick, tick............that 'job creator' clock just keeps on movin these ten years plus of them huge 'job creator' tax cuts that came with them two wars, still not paid for but especially the results of which will be added to the previous decades and wars from, and all that other congressional rubber stampin before and after 9/11, tick, tick, tick......................tock to that reagan capitalism trickle down!!!!

MarionValentine
MarionValentine

@aConservative Things just keep getting worse
for the American worker, and by implication US economy, where as we have
shown many times before, it pays just as well to sit back and collect disability and various welfare and entitlement checks, than to work .The best manifestation of this: the number of people not in the labor force which in March soared by a massive 663,000 to a record 90 million Americans who are no longer even looking for work.
This was the biggest monthly increase in people dropping out of the
labor force since January 2012, when the BLS did its census recast of
the labor numbers. And even worse, the labor force participation rate
plunged from an already abysmal 63.5% to 63.3% - the lowest since 1979! But at least it helped with the now painfully grotesque propaganda that the US unemployment rate is "improving."
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/......

nebolin607
nebolin607

@WesLee - yeah funny how the numbers on the real Dept. of Labor tables never jive with what the liberal news media says - but your looking at full time jobs in that table - the increase was in part time jobs (436K).  And of that 436K part time jobs 340K were taken by people already working (so already had a part time job and now have a second one).  Oh what tangled web we weave when first we try to deceive.  But the liberals won't admit much of that - the truth hurts them way too much - just like the fact Obama pushed for the sequester last year but now says it wasn't his idea and that it is bad.

nebolin607
nebolin607

kind of reminds me of Hilters news media

TerryD
TerryD

@DanielCazalis Daniel, when have we been on a strong road to recover? You are showing you are not smarter than a fifth grader or our President. He either doesn't care or like you doesn't know his policy's are the job killer. I am a small business owner that is scared of this presidents policy's. I like many other business owners do not know what this president will do next to go after us. Here's a partial list. Double gas prices since taking office. He wants to take the sulphur out of the gas= 30-40 cents a gallon increase. Our gas bill for our company went from 6000.00 a month to 14000.00 at highest gas prices. Obamacare, we have no idea what that will end up costing us. Regulations on lead paint, OSHA is everywhere, not so much to protect but to fine. Raising taxes is something this president thinks is a duty and he has small business squarely in his sights. you didnt build this. his exact words "Everytime i hear a person say i built this business it makes me want to get mad. they didnt build it they needed the roads, translation small business is the new enemy he is going to create to protect the the masses from. he was talking during the campaign about student loans, Romney asked him where will you get the money. without even thinking or blinking SMALL BUSINESS. what are we affraid of is this self absorbed person which knows very little about economics other than we are his money tree that is just about is out of fruit. People think the recession is about over. Asked any businessman that question, he will tell you they are still down like us 20-30%. We are afraid to expand or even hire anyone. The really scary thing is the media is in bed with Obama saying we have seen the worst. We gain 88000 jobs and the unemployment Drops. The liberal media doesn't even question it. Obama is getting the country to think this is a good economy. It's really sad that this man will destroy a lot of families for his self absorbed thinking he will be great one day. This country will not rebound until he is out of office. Whenever I need to let another person go because we cannot afford them, I walk through the parking lot looking for Obama stickers and that is the person I let go. If he was a man which he is not he would at least try to hide his many vacations and music concerts at White House. But no he acts like let the goodtimes role which only happen if you live at 1600 Penn Place. When this country wakes up and finds out this man will lie, steal ,cheat whatever it takes to keep his ass looking good we will only continue down the Obama path of do as I say-not as my self absorbed family does.@DanielCazalis

TerryD
TerryD

@DanielCazalis

Daniel, when have we been on a strong road to recover? You are showing you are not smarter than a fifth grader or our President. He either doesn't care or like you doesn't know his policy's are the job killer. I am a small business owner that is scared of this presidents policy's. I like many other business owners do not know what this president will do next to go after us. Here's a partial list. Double gas prices since taking office. He wants to take the sulphur out of the gas= 30-40 cents a gallon increase. Our gas bill for our company went from 6000.00 a month to 14000.00 at highest gas prices. Obamacare, we have no idea what that will end up costing us. Regulations on lead paint, OSHA is everywhere, not so much to protect but to fine. Raising taxes is something this president thinks is a duty and he has small business squarely in his sights. you didnt build this. his exact words "Everytime i hear a person say i built this business it makes me want to get mad. they didnt build it they needed the roads, translation small business is the new enemy he is going to create to protect the the masses from. he was talking during the campaign about student loans, Romney asked him where will you get the money. without even thinking or blinking SMALL BUSINESS. what are we affraid of is this self absorbed person which knows very little about economics other than we are his money tree that is just about is out of fruit. People think the recession is about over. Asked any businessman that question, he will tell you they are still down like us 20-30%. We are afraid to expand or even hire anyone. The really scary thing is the media is in bed with Obama saying we have seen the worst. We gain 88000 jobs and the unemployment Drops. The liberal media doesn't even question it. Obama is getting the country to think this is a good economy. It's really sad that this man will destroy a lot of families for his self absorbed thinking he will be great one day. This country will not rebound until he is out of office. Whenever I need to let another person go because we cannot afford them, I walk through the parking lot looking for Obama stickers and that is the person I let go. If he was a man which he is not he would at least try to hide his many vacations and music concerts at White House. But no he acts like let the goodtimes role which only happen if you live at 1600 Penn Place. When this country wakes up and finds out this man will lie, steal ,cheat whatever it takes to keep his ass looking good we will only continue down the Obama path of do as I say-not as my self absorbed family does.

BillHelene
BillHelene

@DanielCazalis  The sequester amounts to $44B in a $15T economy. A pittance. Furthermore, no sequester cuts had taken place when these numbers were established. Go ahead and spin it all you want but if we had the size labor force we had this time last year we'd be at 8.3% unemployment. And what with the big promises Obama made about that costly stimulus we're actually supposed to be at 5.1% right now. What happened? Its called an unmitigated failure of leadership coupled with idiotic polices.

strongmind1951
strongmind1951

@DanielCazalis - and what jobs were going to be created that were stopped by the sequester? So when the overstuffed walrus called the federal government is forced to cut back it's annual obongo increase from 8.5% gov'ment growth to a measly 5%, that was really going to prevent job growth. Face it, Dan, there won't be any job growth until obamacare and the EPA are scrapped. You can bet money on it. 

vstillwell
vstillwell

@curt3rd Another dimwit ideologue. Imagine that! You people have to tell yourselves to breath you're so dam# stupid.

Raising taxes on low-wage people is generally bad, genius. They spend everything they have because they're living on practically nothing. That's why retailers like Walmart are struggling right now. That's why the economy feels it immediately.  

I feel like I'm trying to teach a kid how to add two plus two together. 

tom.litton
tom.litton

@DuffMinster I always viewed QE as a last ditch effort.  Many economist think fiscal stimulus is the real answer. That would force the money (at least some of it) to circulate (and you get things of value, like education and roads).  

However, since congress is unwilling to do that, the fed decided to do what it can to help unemployment, which is more QE.  It is (arguably) slightly effective, and doesn't really hurt right now, so why not?

curt3rd
curt3rd

Not sure if this is sarcasm but it made me laugh

HenryMiller
HenryMiller

@JimStarowicz 

"Job creators" aren't going to risk starting or growing companies as long as the federal government keeps making it ever more expensive to start or grow companies.  How much (more) is Obamacare going to cost per employee?  How many more thousands of pages of new regulations are companies going to be saddled with?  How high are taxes going to go?

Get government off our backs and companies will start taking chances again.  Until then, it's foolish to take the risks.

Stormwatcher
Stormwatcher

@tom.litton @HenryMiller 

So, Tom, you're one those that enjoys the misery you lefties have forced upon us, eh?

And, you'll notice, I made the correct use of "you're"--unlike you did in your snarky, little post.

Thanks, union run, progressive, lefty schools...


curt3rd
curt3rd

Other than the name calling, Im pretty sure you are agreeing with me.

nebolin607
nebolin607

Stimulus didn't do squat the last time except raise the debt by a trillion dollars - it never helps when most of the money goes into union hands instead of real infrastrucutre rebuilding.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@HenryMiller @JimStarowicz Every business I have worked for in 40 years hired people (creating jobs) when they had enough work for that person to be engaged.  That freaking simple.  None of my bosses stared at charts about taxes, considered tax credits, thought about off shoring work.  It is "damn, I need to get someone to do this work".  They don't like creating jobs because if they could they'd take the revenue for themselves, but if your business is expanding then you need people to work.   Risk?  What risk.  They lay them off if they lose the business that was paying for them.  People have made this whole process way too mystical and mysterious.    Off shoring is for work that already exists but mindless selfish people that want to be more profitable. 

JoshuaRandall
JoshuaRandall

@HenryMiller @JimStarowicz

Next time Obama is gone. We need a president with a good plan and actually thinks these things through. Maybe get out of debt before the u.s. goes off the deep end. Iraqi freedom was a war that's cost the poor everything,and people are giving up on each other. Can we all just help each other through this like we should shoulder to shoulder. Can't we try that before complete chaos burns down our homes and takes everything over. Please.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@HenryMiller @JimStarowicz It's been my experience that _someone_ will always take the risk (and therefore reap whatever benefits there are for that risk). 

All the evidence i've seen points to inadequate demand:  Companies are able to keep up with demand fine with the employees the currently have.  So why would they hire more?  

I can see how Obamacare would give companies pause when hiring people.  What i don't see is how that would overrule expanding their business and take advantage of relatively low interest rates, and a depressed labor market.  If you have specific evidence to the contrary, then i would like to see it.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@Stormwatcher@tom.litton@HenryMiller 

"So, Tom, you're one those that enjoys the misery you lefties have forced upon us, eh?"

Yes

 "And, you'll notice, I made the correct use of "you're"--unlike you did in your snarky, little post."

Thanks, i'm always getting them confused.

 "Thanks, union run, progressive, lefty schools..."

Your welcome :)

Have a nice day!

tom.litton
tom.litton

@curt3rd  

1. Many of the biggest employers only care about the fiscal soundness of the US government so long as it can afford to keep paying them.  If the US government crashes financially, they are happy to setup shop in another country.  

2.  Of course most business owners would agree that raising their taxes is bad for the economy.  But they aren't exactly unbiased.  I haven't see any hard evidence to support it.  If you have, send it my way.

3.  Obama is currently saying large deficits are bad.  Just because he disagrees on how to reduce it and how quickly, doesn't mean he disagrees that large deficits are bad.   However, debt to GDP ratio is expected to remain where it is over the next decade or so, and many economists think unemployment is the big problem now, not the deficit.


curt3rd
curt3rd

Making sure the country is fiscally sound should definitly give companies more confidence but Im pretty sure most business owner would agree that raising taxes is bad for the economy. Just ask Obama before he became president and Im sure he would agree that a large federal debt and out of controll spending is irresonsible and unpatriotic.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@curt3rd It depends.  If your a republican, shrinking the deficits should give the companies the confidence in the economy to hire more people. 

curt3rd
curt3rd

Didnt we raise taxes on everyone that makes above $400,000.00.  Not sure how that improved the economy.

ThomasMacso
ThomasMacso

@vstillwell @curt3rd Does Pelosi, Reid, Feinstein, Boxer, Kerrey, DWS et all know this - so they'll owe more money to the treasury.

vstillwell
vstillwell

@curt3rd No, I'm not. Raising taxes on the most vulnerable is economic suicide. Raising taxes on the offshorers is sound economic policy. 

nebolin607
nebolin607

more BS - if the stimulus actually created jobs we woudl not have lost millions of jobs that year you pin head!!

steelgoat67
steelgoat67

Such nice manners! Okay people, let's do this!

tom.litton
tom.litton

@HenryMiller @tom.litton @JimStarowicz 

1.  A weak dollar helps exports, not hurts it.  It makes goods cheaper for foreigners.

2.  QE has not yet caused inflation, and there is no evidence it is going to in the near future.  If it were, however, wouldn't the expectation that their money will be worth less in the future mean the businesses and people would want to spend it now, and not save it?  There is no evidence that is happening, hence, no implicit or expected inflation.

3.  A large percentage of GDP is local consumption.  You could argue that's a bad thing, but that would take a large and time consuming structure change to the economy.

4.  I've seen no evidence to support companies are holding back because of lack of confidence.  If you have any, then please send it to me.

MachineLearning
MachineLearning

Why wouldn't businesses just invest in automation instead of new hires? That certainly drives productivity gains, but won't directly help the unemployed.

HenryMiller
HenryMiller

@tom.litton @HenryMiller @JimStarowicz 

Two points:  

The US is a part of a global economy and international demand provides opportunity for US companies.  So why aren't US companies trying to grow to take advantage of some of that global demand?  Part of that, I suspect, is that US exports aren't as cost-competitive in other countries as they used to be, and part of that is due to the weakness of the dollar, and part of that is due to the inflation implicit in "quantitative easing."  My point is that much of that "inadequate demand" is international, not domestic, and that more domestic "stimulus," which is what I think you're getting at, won't help, and will likely actually hurt, US exports.  Further, if I'm right that you're getting at more domestic "stimulus," such a stimulus inevitably result in higher taxes, either immediately—unlikely—or in the long term to pay off debt.  Either way, the depressive effect of taxation has to be weighed against the only possibly greater demand created by the "stimulus."  US companies aren't dumb—they're not going to make long-term growth decisions based on the short-term effects of a "stimulus."

Another point is that not all demand is consumer demand—some  demand is capital demand for equipment used to manufacture consumer goods.  Again, that's a long-term thing and companies, these days, just don't have enough long-term confidence in the US economy to make those capital investments.