Finally, a jobs report that is free from snow.
The U.S. economy added 192,000 jobs in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday, indicating that employers had picked up their pace of hiring after the winter slowdown. Unemployment held steady at 6.7 percent, but the employment-population ratio rose to its highest level since August 2009, a sign that more Americans are finding work.
“It’s a big deal that the employment-population ratio is starting to go up, because it hasn’t for the last five years,” said Mark Duggan, a professor of business economics and public policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “If the unemployment rate starts to fall further, that might be because people are actually getting jobs and not just dropping out of the labor force.”
The payrolls figures for January and February, which had dragged in the frigidly cold weather, were revised up to show 37,000 more jobs had been created than previously reported. The March report missed estimates from economists who had projected payrolls would rise by 200,000 and unemployment would tick down to 6.6 percent.
Duggan said it was also promising that the average workweek for employees increased by 0.2 hours in March, which could indicate “underlying strength” and suggest that hiring will increase further in coming months. On the other hand, average hourly earnings for employees edged down by 1 cent to $24.30.