Total nonfarm employment increased by 236,000, corresponding with analysts’ expectations of 238,000 new positions. The unemployment rate declined from 3.6% in February to 3.5% in March, remaining below estimates of 3.6% as the labor market remains robust through a volatile economy.
“The March employment report shows some steam is coming out of the job market, but it isn’t falling out of bed,” Bankrate Senior Economic Analyst Mark Hamrick said in comments provided to The Daily Wire. “More people were working and looking for work, boosting labor force participation. This helps to address the long-running mismatch of supply and demand for labor as job openings decline.”
The increases in employment were led by the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 72,000 positions; government agencies, which added 47,000 positions; and the professional and business services sector, which added 39,000 positions.
The unemployment data came after the Federal Reserve announced a 0.25% increase in the target federal funds rate, marking a slowdown from previous 0.75% and 0.5% rate hikes meant to combat inflation. Members of the Federal Open Market Committee said in a February statement that “ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate in order to attain a stance of monetary policy that is sufficiently restrictive,” a sentiment that was nixed as elevated interest rates reduced asset values in the banking sector and partially contributed to the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.
Average hourly earnings meanwhile rose 4.2% year-over-year as of March, the lowest level of wage gains in nearly two years. Price levels have grown at a faster rate than nominal wages over the past three years, marking an erosion of purchasing power among households.
“Wage growth is cooling,” Hamrick continued, “marking further easing of inflation pressure.”
Real wages, which consider the effect of inflation on nominal pay increases, fell 1.3% year-over-year as of February, according to more data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. President Joe Biden nevertheless released a statement in reaction to the unemployment report asserting that the economy is creating new positions on which families can more easily survive.
“Thanks to the policies we have put in place, the recovery is creating good jobs that you can raise a family on, which is pulling more Americans into the labor force,” the commander-in-chief said. “But there is more work to do. My administration is working each day to lower costs for families and to make our economy even stronger, now and for the long term, with investments in infrastructure, innovation, and clean energy.”
Biden added that “extreme MAGA Republicans in Congress” are threatening the economy through “debt limit brinkmanship.” Several members of the House Freedom Caucus, a bloc of conservative Republican lawmakers, indeed countered the administration’s federal budget proposal with a framework that would largely eliminate additional spending increases over the next decade and said they would not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless various fiscal reforms occur.
“Their extreme agenda would send the unprecedented investments we’ve made here in America, along with the jobs that come with it, overseas,” Biden continued. “Make no mistake, I will stop those efforts to put our economy at risk and take us back to the failed policies of the past.”