3 Things You Should Know From the March 2017 Jobs Report

March 10, 2017 Deanna Hartley

The U.S. economy added only 98,000 jobs in March, about half of the 180,000 economists were expecting and the slowest since May 2016, according to a new jobs report released this morning by the BLS.

As you may know, following each month’s BLS jobs report, we read dozens of news reports, scour the web, and break what we find down to three key talking points you can use. Whether you’re taking a break at the office water cooler or conversing with peers in the industry, you’ll have three conversation starters in your pocket.

News You Can Use From Today's Release   

1. Job gains slowed dramatically. Compare the March gains of 98,000 to the 219,000 increase in February.

According to The New York Times: “Hiring in March was expected to drop after the monthly gains of more than 200,000 in the previous two months, but this was the weakest showing for the economy in nearly a year. Although it represents just one month’s data, it will raise questions about whether improving business sentiment is actually translating into any meaningful action by employers.”

2. Blame the weather? While you might be tempted to blame the gloomy jobs gains on the weather, it wasn’t just that.

According to CNBC: “Weather issues may have had a hand in March's numbers as a big snowstorm in mid-month may have depressed activity. Retail jobs fell by 30,000 and construction was up just 6,000 after a gain of 59,000 in February.”

What’s going on with the retail industry?

According to Business Insider: “The retail sector continued to contract, with department stores expected to close up to 3,500 stores early in 2017. About 29,700 retail jobs were cut in March, and the vast majority were from department stores that sell everything from furniture to vegetables. Online retailers, the big competitors to physical stores, gained 2,200 jobs.”

3. The health of the labor market overall is intact. The unemployment rate dropped to a 10-year low. The last time it came close to being this low was in May 2007.

According to Bloomberg: “…the jobless rate unexpectedly dropped to the lowest in almost a decade, suggesting the labor market is returning to a more sustainable pace of progress.”

According to Reuters: “U.S. job growth slowed sharply in March amid continued layoffs in the retail sector, but a drop in the unemployment rate to a near 10-year low of 4.5 percent suggested labor market strength remained intact.”

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