196,000 Jobs Added in March, But Concerns of a Slowdown Linger

The average number of jobs added is down from last year’s growth.

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A report by the U.S. Labor Department was released this morning showing 196,000 new jobs were added in March. This, after recent concerns of an economic slowdown.

Though March’s report may quell some fears, job growth does seem to be headed towards a downward slope. This year’s first quarter added 180,000 jobs on average, down from 2018’s average of 223,000.

Martha Gimbel, research director for the job site, Indeed, points out “The number from last year was not sustainable. What’s more surprising is that we’re still adding an average of 180,000 jobs at this point in a recovery.”

Temporary help jobs also declined once again in March for the third month in a row. The temporary jobs sector has previously consistently been a strong indicator of economic strength. The sector has experienced a one percent decline during the last quarter. Some economists say this points to an economic slowdown.

Employment in the manufacturing sector is also down from two months ago. This is the first time since the 2015-2016 manufacturing recession the industry has slumped downward, prompting fears of another manufacturing recession.

The good news is that the U.S. economy continues to add jobs, but job growth is forecast to slow down for the remainder of 2019. The unemployment rate was 3.8 percent for March.

Some economists remain positive. Luke Tilley, Wilmington Trust’s chief economist, says “We think the labor market is the strongest thing in the U.S. economy right now. We’re encouraged by the wage gains.” Wages were 3.2 percent higher than March 2018.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has indicated that it likely won’t raise interest rates. This means that inflation should remain at bay. And, economists support the Fed’s position.

“It doesn’t tell the Fed that it’s doing the wrong thing by remaining patient. But it also tells the Fed that there’s nothing in the data that tells it that it should be cutting rates right now,” said Ellen Zentner, Morgan Stanley’s chief U.S. economist.

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