Monday, April 7, 2014

Belated March job thoughts

I was going to post this over the weekend, but a certain basketball game and the Sunday aftermath of festivities surrounding the game sort of got in the way of solid analysis. So here it is.

March's U.S. job report on the whole was good. Not only was there a return to the days where job growth is back near 200,000 a month (192,000 to be exact), the previous months also were revised up.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from +129,000 to +144,000, and the change for February was revised from +175,000 to +197,000. With these revisions, employment gains in January and February were 37,000 higher than previously reported.
So we're really 229,000 jobs above where we thought we were at last month, and even the unemployment rate sticking at 6.7% isn't so bad, because the household survey indicated that the labor force went up by 503,000, with 476,000 finding employment.

The other good news is an increase in average hours worked for private sector employees, going up from 34.3 to 34.5, with goods-producing jobs going up from 40.2 to 40.7. This bumped up average weekly wages in the private sector by $4.52 in March vs. February, and bumping the year-over-year increase to 2.06%. Yes, it needs to be more than 2% to have the recovery be stronger, but I'll go with the positive steps seen in March, and see if it portends a good 2nd Quarter when it comes to job and GDP growth, as the weather-afflicted demand that will hold down Q1 growth could snap back.

The upward job revisions also add to the Walker jobs gap in Wisconsin, as it's now up to 55,000 in the private sector, with 4,100 more jobs needed to be added in Wisconsin in March just to keep up with US growth.

I expect some seasonally-adjusted growth in the state to show up over the next 3 months, just because of warmer weather causing delayed purchases to be made (if not, start panicking). But make no mistake, it's the steadily-growing U.S. economy that's causing the increase in jobs, not Scott Walker and WisGOP's policies.

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