March Drop in Unemployment Rate Offset By Pause In Hiring

April 07, 2017

The unemployment rate dropped to a ten-year low in March (4.5 percent), but employers added only 98,000 jobs as most industries cooled their pace of hiring, with brick and mortar retail stores being particularly cautious.  Hourly wages, meanwhile, have steadily grown at around 2.7 percent over the year.  Despite the weak payroll hiring number reported by businesses, the household survey showed the number of unemployed people dropped by 326,000 in March, the largest one month drop in almost a year, and 472,000 people reported gaining a job.  Although a disparity in job growth between the two surveys is not unusual, it was the largest disparity for the month in 13 years.  In March, just four industries accounted for all the job growth:

  • Professional and Business Services (+56,000);
  • Bars and Restaurants (+21,700);
  • Health Care (+13,500); and
  • Mining (+11,000).
Most other industries were relatively unchanged or saw declines, most notably retail trade (-29,700) and arts, entertainment, and recreation (-12,400), which were likely affected by the cold weather.  Importantly, there are almost 325,000 jobs waiting to be filled on, the Association's job board.