Economy Sheds 31,000 Jobs in March

Contrary to expectations for 200,000 jobs created during the month of March, the announcement of actual job creation by the Bureau of Labor Statistics fell far short this morning, coming in at 120,000 jobs.  Look into the details and the news gets even worse.  The employment level – one of the factors in calculating the unemployment rate – actually fell by 31,000 jobs.  Thanks only to the oft-used tactic of claiming that Americans are mysteriously vanishing from the labor force, the official U3 unemployment rate actually fell by a tenth to 8.2%. 

But let’s talk reality here.  The decline in the unemployment level combined with immigration-fueled population growth to produce a rise in unemployment by a tenth to 10.75%.  (See my “U3a” calculation in the following spreadsheet.)  And the broader measure of unemployment, including discouraged workers and those forced to take part-time jobs when they really need full-time work, rose two tenths to 19.2% (as opposed to the ridiculous claim by the BLS that it fell by four tenths to 14.5%).  Here’s the spreadsheet:

Unemployment Calculation

Much ado has been made in the last few months about the supposed economic recovery.  Look at the following chart, paying particular attention to the realistic measures of unemployment – U3a and U6a.  You can see that what little progress has been made is miniscule.  We have miles to go to return to a healthy employment level. 

Unemployment Chart

It’s probably a good thing that the stock market was closed today.  This hugely disappointing jobs report confirms what other economic data has been telling us for the last month – the flash-in-the-pan recovery that began late last year (probably fueled by an orgy of spending by federal agencies with the start of the new fiscal year in October) is running out of steam.  Combined with this morning’s downgrade of U.S. debt and negative outlook by Egan-Jones, these factors make for a cold slap in the face for investors. 

* * * * *

The supposed increase of 120,000 jobs in March, taken from the establishment survey portion of the employment situation summary, break down as follows:

  • Manufacturing:  + 37,000
  •  Food services and drinking places:  + 37,000
  • Professional & business services:  + 31,000
  • Health care:  + 26,000
  • Financial activities:  + 15,000
  • Mining:  no change
  • Construction:  no change
  • Transportation & warehousing:  no change
  • Information:  no change
  • Retail trade:  – 34,000

Notably absent from the report is any mention of government employment, which has been in steady decline – especially at the state and local levels.  I have a sneaking suspicion that it was intentionally omitted to avoid making an already-bad report even worse.

It’s also worth noting that the BLS reported that the average workweek declined by o.1 hours while the average manufacturing workweek declined a steep 0.3 hours – a bad harbinger for future manufacturing employment. 


One Response to Economy Sheds 31,000 Jobs in March

  1. George says:

    The stock market has been the economy for the last 30 years. The so-called investors deserve a steady diet of bad news

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