The U.S. job market took a breather in March after its best hiring stretch since the Great Recession. Employers added 120,000 jobs last month – half the December-February pace and well short of the 210,000 economists were expecting. The unemployment rate fell from 8.3 percent in February to 8.2 percent, the lowest since January 2009, but that was largely because many Americans stopped looking for work. Still, few economists expect hiring to fizzle in spring and summer, as it did the past two years. And they blamed seasonal factors for much of Friday’s disappointing report from the Labor Department. “We don’t think this is the start of another spring dip in labor market conditions,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist with Capital Economics.
Ashworth and other economists cited the weather for the latest jobs report. A warm January and February allowed companies to hire workers for outdoor jobs a few weeks earlier than usual, effectively stealing jobs from March. It partially explains a 34,000-job drop in retail hiring and a 7,000 drop in construction jobs.
Economists also say the numbers can bounce around from month to month. Consistently creating 200,000 jobs a month is tough. The economy hasn’t put together four straight months of 200,000 or more new jobs since early 2000.
American CEOs want to do what’s right for America, hire Americans and keep the U.S. economy the strongest in the world. But they understand income statements and balance sheets. The numbers on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment, the wars, and our worldwide military presence point to a huge and growing annual budget deficit and a ballooning debt. Congress might fail to appreciate the magnitude of the crisis, but CEOs see one thing: no plan, no strategy and no consistency. The result: no jobs.
What is in store for Americans out looking for employment? In the midst of a highly contentious election, the unknowns will continue to plague the United States economy and the job market. Recent college graduates, professionals caught in company cutbacks, the underemployed clearly face a future in America filled with questions with very few answers. One thing is certain, however, this election year will play a leading role in the outcome.