The jobs report for last month was solidly mediocre, as better hiring just missed forecasts but prior months saw a significant upward revision. Additionally, the unemployment rate didn’t budge because more people entered the labor force.
Nonfarm payrolls rose by 192,00o last month, the Department of Labor said Friday. Economists, on average, forecast payrolls to grow by 200,000, according to a survey by Bloomberg.
The unemployment rate, which is derived from a separate survey, remained at 6.7% vs. expectations that it would fall to 6.6%. The labor-force participation rate moved up to 63.2% from 63%, as more than half a million people searched for work.
Job growth has now averaged 183,000 per month over the prior 12 months, the Labor Department said, reflecting troubling weakness at the start the year. For all of 2013, job growth averaged 189,000 per month.
However, the pickup in February and better hiring in March indicate that whatever was holding hiring back appears to be abating. In other positive news, employment gains in January and February were revised higher by 37,000 in total.
However, as always, whether folks actually landed jobs greatly depended on the industry they were targeting. Here’s a look into the March jobs report:
March Jobs Report: Industry Highlights
Drilling down into the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ February Employment Situation Report showed areas of strength in professional and business services, healthcare, and mining and logging.
Professional and business services enjoyed a second straight month of solid gains, adding 57,000 jobs in March, slightly above its average monthly gain of 56,000 over the trailing 12 months. Bright spots within the industry included temporary help services, computer systems design and related services, and architectural and engineering services.
Healthcare hiring picked up last month, creating 19,000 jobs, which was better than the 12-month average of 17,000. Ambulatory health care services were responsible for the gains, as home health care services and nursing care facilities lost jobs over the month.
Mining and logging saw better hiring in March, adding 7,000 workers, mostly in support activities for mining. Over the prior 12 months, the mining and logging industry added an average of 3,000 jobs per month, the Labor Department said.
Restaurants and bars continued to be a good place to look for work, as food services and drinking places gained 30,000 positions. Total hiring in the industry now comes to 323,000 over the past year.
Construction employment continued to trend up in March with 19,000 new hires. Construction employment has risen by a total of 151,000 over the past year.
On the other side of the March jobs report, employment in government continued to recede. A loss of 9,000 jobs in federal government was partially offset by a gain of 8,000 jobs in local government, excluding education. Over the past year, employment in federal government has fallen by 85,000.
Within the manufacturing industry, fabricated metal products declined by 2,600 jobs, while semiconductors and electronic components shed more than 2,000 positions.
Food manufacturing showed some weakness, shedding 5,000 jobs, and plastics and rubber products declined by 4,000.
Building material and garden supply stores saw payrolls contract by 4,000. Credit intermediation and related activities fell by 7,000.