The Corner

The one and only.

Jobs Report Reflects Slow Pace of Growth


The labor market continues to struggle. The March jobs report was weak, perhaps influenced by weather, but reflecting the slow overall pace of GDP growth.

  • Payroll employment rose by only 120,000 in March, under one-half of the average the past three months.
  • The unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent because employment fell in the household survey, but the labor force fell even more. 

Inside the report were few glimmers of strength.

  • Hours of work fell overall, and sharply in manufacturing.
  • Total payroll grew only modestly.

Weather probably influenced the report. Warm winter weather raised employment in January and February, leading to less growth in March.

  • The distribution of jobs — up strongly in manufacturing and down in retail trade — suggests a very mixed picture.

The bottom line: The economy continues to slowly recover from the Great Recession. Focusing on one month of data is always dangerous; the March data are consistent with steady but mediocre job and GDP growth in the first half of 2012.