Apr 08, 2019

Putting U.S. Employment Numbers in Context – March 2019

Post by Freedom Partners

On April 5, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the economy gained 196,000 jobs during March and the U.S. unemployment rate stayed the same at 3.8 percent. Year-over-year wages increased by 3.2 percent, a 0.2 percentage point drop from last month, which was the largest gain since April 2009. Additionally, the number of jobs added during January and February were revised up by a collective 14,000, while the rate of individuals underemployed (those who want a job but are no longer looking for work, and those forced into part-time work) remained at its lowest since March 2001.

Last week’s report further shows the labor market remains at its strongest in decades and highlights the benefits of enacting pro-growth policies like tax reform and continued regulatory relief. Over the past 27 months, average hourly earnings for all private sector employees rose 6.6 percent, signaling a strong turnaround for workers after years of stagnant wage growth. Additionally, the economy gained over 5.1 million jobs, at an average rate of 196,962 jobs per month, while the unemployment rate dropped 0.9 percentage points. The largest private sector job gains were seen in education and health services, as well as professional and business services.

However, tariffs on goods imported into the U.S. threaten to undermine continued job growth and the overall labor market – they are already costing businesses and consumers more. One estimate showed that nearly 39 million U.S. jobs were supported by trade in 2017. Tariffs benefit a few politically connected industries at the expense of most consumers and businesses. Lowering trade barriers will improve lives by growing the economy, increasing pay checks, and creating new and better jobs.

Below is a deeper look at the numbers from last week’s report and what they say about the state of the U.S. labor market.