Wednesday, April 14, 2010

March Jobs Report

According to the Labor Department’s latest jobs report, the US economy gained more jobs in March than any other month in the past three years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the economy gained 162,000 jobs, which makes March only one of three months to see a gain in employment since the start of the recession. March was forecast to gain 184,000 jobs. But, despite falling short of this goal, it was generally viewed as a good month by economists due to revised numbers in both January and February that added 62,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate, however, remained high at 9.7%, where it has been for the last three months. The March unemployment data points towards the fact that the labor market has begun to regain balance. This is a key measure of the vitality of the US economy and an important indicator of our economic health.

Several reasons contributed to the increase in jobs, including better weather in February (compared to the January blizzards) and the hiring of workers for the once-every-ten-years Census, which accounts for nearly 50,000 positions.

President Barack Obama, speaking in Charlotte, North Carolina, commented on the latest jobs report, “Government can't reverse the toll of this recession overnight, and government on its own can't replace the 8 million jobs that have been lost," he said. "The true engine of job growth in this country has always been the private sector. What government can do is create the conditions...for companies to hire again.”

While the numbers are better, it doesn’t provide relief to the 15 million people listed as unemployed. Hope is on the horizon, though. The average hourly workweek crept up 0.1 hours in March, and the average weekly paycheck was raised by $1.57 to $763.98. Positive signs like these should help increase consumer spending and confidence in the future.

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