This week, instead of my usual economic digest, I’m going to focus on the U.S. jobs picture. After all, we’ve just received not one—but three separate market-moving reports on the labor market: ADP’s payroll report on Wednesday, the weekly jobless claims report and the Labor Department’s payroll report on Friday.
ADP’s report came as a pleasant surprise; according to the payroll company, the private sector added 200,000 jobs in March. This was above economists’ predictions of 194,000 jobs for the month, and it helped to give the market a boost on Wednesday.
On the other hand, the weekly jobless claims report was a less welcome surprise. Initial claims for unemployment increased 11,000 last week—economists had forecasted that claims would stay unchanged.
Unemployment Rate Report
Fortunately, Friday’s Unemployment Rate report from the Labor Department was generally positive. In March, 215,000 payroll jobs were created. This was higher than the consensus estimate of 213,000 payroll jobs. Meanwhile, average hourly earnings rose by $0.07 to $25.43 per hour. Better yet, the labor force participation rate climbed to 63%, the highest level in two years. However, the fact remains that the unemployment rate ticked up from 4.9% in February to 5.0% in March. In addition, the average workweek remained unchanged at 34.4 hours.
The Bottom Line
If I were to sum up these three reports, I’d call these “Goldilocks” results. The results weren’t too hot, or too cold, but just right to encourage the Fed to remain very accommodative.