3 things to know about the March 2018 jobs report

BLS jobs report 4

The U.S. added fewer jobs in March than expected. However, the overall employment picture looks strong, with March marking the 90th straight month of job gains.

The U.S. added 103,000 jobs in March, notably lower than the 178,000-plus that economists were expecting. However, the overall employment picture looks strong, with March marking the 90th straight month of job gains.

Here are some highlights from the report.

1. Looking at the big picture, overall economic growth is still strong.

According to Forbes: "...employment growth is averaging just over 200,000 over the last three months even with Friday’s disappointing March figure, meaning the overall situation remains pretty strong."

According to CNBC: "If one were to only focus on this single month, the March employment report is on the disappointing side," said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com. "Broader context is appropriate, however. The job market is widely regarded to be close to full employment. So, hiring gains should be slowing at this point in the expansion."

According to Marketwatch: "The U.S. gained just 103,000 new jobs in March to mark the smallest increase since last fall, but the latest report on employment still shows the tightest labor market in nearly two decades."

2. What about wages?

According to ABC News: "An increasing need to compete for workers may also finally be lifting wages in some sectors. Yet the steady influx of new workers, which gives employers more hiring options than the low unemployment rate might otherwise suggest, may be holding back overall pay growth."

Even though wages in March rose 2.7 percent from this time last year, The New York Times reported that economists exercise caution against putting too much emphasis on month-to-month changes and instead focus more on the bigger picture. "The bigger picture is that wage growth remains weaker than most economists would expect when unemployment is so low. ... Most still expect employers to have to raise pay eventually to attract and retain workers. But so far, employers are resisting."

3. What does that mean for interest rates?

According to Reuters: "The U.S. economy created the fewest jobs in six months in March as the boost from mild temperatures faded, but a pickup in wage gains pointed to a tightening labor market, which should allow the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates further this year."

According to MarketWatch: "The Federal Reserve is watching the unemployment rate and rate of wage gains closely for signs of inflation in trying to determine how many times to raise interest rates this year. The latest numbers won’t induce much alarm."

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