The U.S. labor market bounced back strongly in March after a lackluster showing in February.
NPR reported that U.S. employers added 196,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department reported. That’s a big improvement from February, when revised figures show just 33,000 jobs were added. But it’s a slowdown from the last three months of 2018, when monthly job growth averaged 233,000.
“That number in February was a fluke,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Markit. He says the March figure shows an economy that’s still growing, albeit at a slower pace than last year.
The report showed modest declines in jobs in retail and manufacturing.
“We’re talking about an economy that’s slowing,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton. “But for now, it should be another good year, where workers finally get to reap the benefits of a very long marathon of an expansion.”
The unemployment rate was unchanged in March at 3.8%. With unemployment hovering near 50-year lows, forecasters say there’s an upper limit on potential job growth.
A growing number of new hires are people who had left the workforce altogether, but were drawn back by the surge in job openings and wages that are growing more than 3% per year.
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