The March jobs report is out, and it’s meeting the modest expectations laid out for it. On Friday morning, the Labor Department reported that the U.S. economy added 215,000 jobs and that unemployment moved up slightly, to 5 percent. Economists were expecting 205,000 jobs to be added and that the unemployment rate would remain at 4.9 percent. All in all, the U.S. economy is looking healthy, with steady job gains for the past 73 months.
January’s jobs report missed expectations, but February’s numbers exceeded them. This month’s revisions had January’s numbers go slightly down and February’s numbers slightly up, but even so the U.S. economy has been adding an average of 209,000 jobs in the last three months.
In the last couple of years, the month of March has borne disappointing jobs reports. But this year’s March report met expectations, with the Labor Department reporting hiring in the sectors of retail, construction, and health care. Employment in mining continued to decline.
One of the most promising signs: In 2016, economists are looking for wages and labor-force participation to improve. And in March, hourly wages rose by 7 cents, bringing wage gain to 2.3 percent for the past 12 months. There’s also good news about the labor-force participation rate, which is up again, to 63 percent.