April 05, 2019
Payroll jobs increased by 196,000 in March to above the three-month moving average of 180,000 per month, and average weekly earnings have increased 3.2% from a year ago—a level last seen consistently in 2007.
The unemployment rate remained at 3.8% while the latest unemployment benefits claims at 202,000 were the lowest since 1969.
Some cracks in the jobs picture: Manufacturing job growth has stalled due to the impact of tariffs. Meanwhile, the number of retail jobs has fallen for three straight months.
Weekly earnings growth varies by industry: Information (7.0%), utilities (3.9%), finance (3.9%), leisure and hospitality (3.7%), professional and business services (3.6%), and construction (3.6%) all saw strong, above-average earnings growth, while transportation and warehousing (1.3%) and manufacturing (1.3%) are rising more slowly.
Job gains were focused in four industries accounting for almost 65% of all job growth:
GDP forecasts rebounding: First quarter growth forecasts have been rising with new data, leading some economists to expect growth to be more than 2%.
Looking ahead: The majority of business economists see external headwinds from trade policy and slower global growth as the primary downside risks to growth. However, they put the odds of a recession starting in 2019 at just 20%, and the odds of a recession by the end of 2020 at just 35%, while projecting payroll job growth in 2019 to average 173,000.