Growth Continues as Unemployment Stays at 6.7%

By Toni Vranjes

April 4, 2014

The economy added 192,000 jobs last month, continuing a trend of steady employment growth. The jobless rate remained at 6.7 percent, however, as the nation’s labor force increased.

The payroll figure was less than economists had forecast. The consensus estimate was 195,000 new jobs for March, according to IHS Global Insight.

Payrolls increased by 144,000 in January, and in February, payroll growth totaled 197,000, according to revised data released by the Labor Department.

Meanwhile, the U.S. labor force expanded by 503,000, and the labor-force participation rate increased from 63 percent to 63.2 percent.

In an analysis of the March numbers, IHS economist Doug Handler wrote that the employment report is “consistent with a moderately growing economy at present and a faster growing economy later this year.”

The job market has come a long way since the most recent recession started in December 2007. In a statement, Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Erica Groshen said: “The private sector lost 8.8 million jobs during the labor market downturn and has gained 8.9 million since the employment low in February 2010.”

Despite that accomplishment, total employment is 422,000 below the December 2007 level, because of cuts in government jobs, Groshen added.

And while private-sector employment is up again, the new jobs are of much lower quality than those that were eliminated, according to Mesirow Financial economist Diane Swonk.

“The overwhelming majority of job gains was concentrated in low-wage industries, while the jobs lost to the Great Recession were much higher-paying jobs in construction, manufacturing and business services,” Swonk wrote in a blog post.

In addition, Swonk wrote that job growth isn’t high enough to accommodate everyone who has entered the labor force since the recovery started — leading to higher unemployment.

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