United States: Payrolls disappoint in March
April 10, 2012
In March, non-farm payrolls advanced by 120,000, which halved the revised 240,000 observed in February (previously reported: 227,000 jobs). The figure undershot market expectations, which had anticipated payrolls rising by 201,000. The private sector continued to be entirely responsible for new hiring by adding 121,000 jobs. Manufacturing and food services recorded the largest gains, while employment was down in retail trade. Meanwhile, the public sector maintained the negative trend seen throughout last year, although the pace of public job destruction has reduced sharply, shedding only 1,000 jobs in March. The monthly figure marks the 18th consecutive month with gains in non-farm payrolls and the U.S. economy has now recovered 2.9 million jobs since October 2010, which marked the trough of the crisis in the labour market. That said, despite the improvement seen in the past two years, the economy still remains 5.2 million jobs below the peak reached in January 2008. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate inched down from 8.3% in February to 8.2%, which marks the lowest level seen since February 2009. Nevertheless, the figure mainly reflected a decline in the labour force (which lost 164,000 people over the previous month), as the level of employed workers dropped 31,000 over February. As a result, the labour force participation rate fell to 63.8% in March, barely above the all-time low of 63.7% recorded in January.