The latest jobs numbers show that nonfarm payrolls rose by 216,000 in March and the private sector added 230,000 jobs.
“Any monthly job gain over 200,000 is a good indicator of growth as it is generally seen as job gains greater than the replacement rate,” said labor market analyst Elena Volovelsky.
This latest unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a point to 8.8%, a new two-year low. The unemployment rate has dropped a full percentage point since November.
Though 13.5 million Americans remain unemployed, the positive news in this report is that the private sector is continues to increase payrolls. There are some concerns about the wages associated with the new positions and how they compare to the salaries of the jobs they replace.
In March, the Establishment Survey Data shows that job growth was highest in service-providing sectors, led by a gain of 78,000 in professional and business services. Most of the gain, 29,000 jobs, occurred in temporary help services.
Next was health care with a March increase of 37,000 new jobs. Over the last 12 months, health care has added 283,000 jobs, or an average of 24,000 jobs per month.
Rounding out the top three, employment in leisure and hospitality rose by 37,000 over the month, with more than two-thirds of the increase, 27,000, in food services and drinking places.
More than 40% of the new jobs over the last three months were created in these two sectors: education & health and in leisure & hospitality according to Unicredit analyst Harm Bandholz. While there are high-paying positions in these two sectors, the majority of positions created were support or entry level positions such as home health-care workers and nurses aids, the lower-wage positions, in the health sector.
In March, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged down by 2 cents to $19.30. This suggests that increasing numbers of returning jobless workers may be settling for lower wages than they had earned before the recession, according to David Resler of Nomura Global Economics.
Outside of the private sector, local governments continued to struggle, shrinking by 16,000 jobs in March. Of course, this was better than the 46,000 government jobs lost in February.
Average workweek hours for employees on private payrolls was unchanged at 34.3 hours in March.
The February number was revised to show an increase of 194,000 jobs from a previously estimated gain of 192,000.
Lastly, a sign of the headwinds faced by the Americans searching for a job, the report showed 45.5%, or 6.1 million people, were out of work for six months or more in March – an increase from 43.9% the month before. The consensus has always been that the longer a person is out of work, the harder it is to find a job.