March Jobs Report Shows Brightening U.S. Economy

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

To suggest the U.S. economy is on the right track, key post-recession milestones must be met. For starters, the amount of employed Americans must meet or eclipse the figures from 2008, when the economy took a nosedive.

Economists saw this goal accomplished in March 2014 when private employers hired 192,000 workers to match January 2008 employment levels. However, no one was ready to break out the champagne in light of the news about the long-term unemployed and job hunters fresh to the market.

Temporary employees (up 29,000 employees) led the charge, with the healthcare industry (up 19,000 jobs) and construction work (also up 19,000 jobs) pacing the hiring binge during March 2014. The 192,000 jobs added outshined the average of 182,000, the Department of Labor reported on April 4. On the subtraction side, critiques of a wasteful administration would fall on deaf ears after a review of the Labor Department figures. Federal government employment fell by 9,000 jobs in March. In the past twelve months, the federal government has shed 85,000 jobs from its payroll.

The overall strength in hiring did not reduce the unemployment rate, which held at 6.7 percent. According to a USA Today report, the lack of a drop in unemployment statistics was tied to an increase in long-term jobless indivuduals heading back out to the market in search of work. After laying low for the previous month, an additional 500,000 individuals returned to the job hunt in March but were discouraged. As a result, the unemployment ranks were steady even though hiring was robust.

Another underlying problem with the economic recovery is the number of new applicants entering the field of those looking for jobs. Their numbers are swelling faster than employers can create jobs.

A Moody’s economist told USA Today that approximately 15 million employees have hit working age since the recession began in January 2008. Because the economy shed so many jobs in the following year, the recovery marks only a return to the baseline. The economist suggested another 13 million jobs would exist had the recession not happened.

A dramatic drop in the number of government employees since the last year of the Bush adminstration is also noteworthy. Compared to the current states of federal, state, and local government employees, the Bush-era payroll was charging U.S. taxpayers for another 500,000 employees.

The Department of Labor’s March jobs report may get better once the April release arrives. At the end of the March report, the agency revised its January 2014 hiring quote up by 15,000 jobs and added 22,000 jobs to its February estimate. A spring thaw could help build more momentum in an economy that could use all the bright spots it can get.

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