Pace of Job Creation Slows in March

By Toni Vranjes

April 5, 2013

The new employment report brought a lot of underwhelming news.

Economists had forecast that 200,000 new jobs would appear last month, but the government reported today that the job growth in March was only 88,000. In contrast, the government’s revised numbers show that the economy added 268,000 jobs in February. The slowdown created new uncertainty about the state of the job market.

down_arrow_7_pt_6In addition, the labor force declined by 496,000, which drove the unemployment rate down to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent. In a commentary on the March numbers, IHS Global Insight economist Nigel Gault wrote that the jobless rate dropped for the “wrong” reasons.

Areas of job growth included professional and business services, health care, and construction. However, retail-trade employment plunged by 24,000, and the manufacturing sector cut 3,000 jobs.

“There were disappointments almost across the board, especially in manufacturing and retail trade which both saw job losses,” Gault wrote.

He added the decline in retail jobs may have been exaggerated by cold weather. Also, he’s not attributing the lousy job numbers to “sequestration” — across-the-board government spending cuts that took effect on March 1. The impact of these cuts has “yet to be felt,” according to Gault.

“The report will fan fears that we will once again see a slowdown in job creation after a strong start to the year, as in 2011 and 2012,” he wrote.

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