The United States Department of Labor reported Friday morning that only 88,000 jobs were created in March, the lowest number in nine months and well below the projected 197,000. Employment grew in professional and business services as well as in health care but declined in retail. The number of unemployed persons showed little change and is currently 11.7 million.
March unemployment rates by groups:
Adult men-6.9 percent
Adult women- 7.0 percent
The report included a number of red flags for the direction of the economy:
The number of long-term unemployed (those out of work for 27 or more weeks) stood at 4.6 million and accounted for 39.6 percent of the unemployed.
The labor force participation rate declined by 496,000 last month and is now 63.3 percent-the lowest rate since May of 1979.
In March, 2.3 million persons were not counted as unemployed because they had given up looking for work while another 1.5 million were not counted because they had stopped actively seeking work due to other reasons.
It is clear that the economy continues to struggle to gain traction. The employment situation “appears to be losing momentum,” said Robert Brusca of FAO Economics.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has warned that the hike in the payroll tax that began on January 1 and would deal a blow to the recovery and jobs growth. Today’s jobs report would seem to confirm those concerns. Sequestration played no part in the March report, but will begin to impact the jobs numbers this month as layoffs begin.
The U-6 rate counts total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force and is a more accurate reflection of the employment situation. That number was 13.9 percent for March.
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