Sunday, April 7, 2024

March jobs report shows things didn't slow down in Q1, but actually picked up

Looks like we rounded out the first quarter of 2024 with yet another strong US jobs report.

So job growth in Q1 2024 rebounded from what had been a steady drift downward (but was still at good levels).

Going back 3 years, you can see that the passage of the Biden stimulus in March 2021 along with COVID vaccinations becoming widely available led to more than 7 million new jobs in the first 12 months. That number has declined back toward normality as these measures faded away over time, but we've still been seeing job growth stay at rates of nearly 1.5 million over each of the last 2 6-month periods.

And much as we have seen in the last 2 years, health care led the way with hiring, with another 72,000 jobs added in March, and nearly 750,000 in the last year. And the health care sector now has more than 1 million jobs above what they had before the COVID pandemic hit the industry.

Construction also continued its winning streak in March, with another 39,000 jobs added to what was already an impressive group of gains in the last 2 years. Contrasting that, jobs in manufacturing remained flat for March, with slight downward revisions for January and February.

In the household survey, the drop in unemployment happened for the "good reason", 469,000 additional people in the work force, and 498,000 listing themselves as "employed". It's also a positive that we've seen a decline in Americans identifying themselves as "working part-time for econiomic reasons". However, we also saw an increase of 593,000 people working "part-time for non-economic reasons", which is listed as
...persons who usually work part time for noneconomic reasons such as childcare problems, family or personal obligations, school or training, retirement or Social Security limits on earnings, and other reasons. This excludes persons who usually work full time but worked only 1 to 34 hours during the reference week for reasons such as vacations, holidays, illness, and bad weather.
Which makes me wonder if this is due to a large amount of Boomers "downshifting" into part-time work because the economy has gotten good enough that they can retire (which would be good), or if it's because more people are having difficulties in handling child care and other "adult responsibilities", and it's keeping them from wanting full-time work (which would be bad).

The wage picture also had good news for both workers as well as people hoping for interest rate cuts in the near future.

Solid, but not spectacular. Which is what the Fed allegedly wants as part of the soft landing, right?

Interestingly, while the 4.1% overall increase in wage growth over the last 12 months is what we often hear cited, manufacturing, construction and warehousing jobs have had bigger pay raises than that.

Change in average hourly wages, Mar 2023 - Mar 2024
Construction +5.0%
Manufacturing +5.3%
Transportation and Warehousing +6.0%

Change in average weekly wages, Mar 2023 - Mar 2024
Construction +6.1%
Manufacturing +4.9%
Transportation and warehousing +6.5%

Increased construction jobs and higher wages in all 3 of these fields sure seem like something the Biden campaign should seize on, eh? Well, if a certain demographic wants to listen to it, and care about making ends meet instead of claiming they are blue-collar because of "culture".

But I don't think you can deny that America's jobs market was still in a very good place in March 2024. And the lame attempts by right-wingers to deflect from this reality should be seen as the desperation that it is.

No comments:

Post a Comment