Hiring tanks in March - another spring swoon?

A frustrating pattern continues for the third consecutive year: Strong numbers in January and February, and then off the cliff in March. Only 88,000 payroll jobs were added in the U.S. last month, way, way below estimates of 200,000 and the slowest pace of growth since June 2012. Don't blame the government's massive budget cutting known as sequestration - at least not yet anyway. More likely is the fractured nature of this expansion; job growth is simply not accelerating as it has in past recoveries, and the positions that do get created tend to be on the lower side of the wage scale. Meanwhile, the March unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent, but that's only because more people left the workforce. On the plus side, February payrolls were revised up to 268,000 from the originally reported 236,000, while January was revised to 148,000 from 119,000. On Wall street, this could be an ugly day, with the Dow down 167 points. Investors had been looking for an excuse to take some profits after the recent rally - today might be a good time to do it. All told, not a total disaster, but certainly a disappointment. (NYT, BLS release)

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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