Another frozen winter in the Northeast, a plunge in oil prices and the strong U.S. dollar and look where the jobs report goes for the month of March – down.
A one year streak of robust hiring was cracked Friday when the latest jobs report was released. The most recent data isn't exactly a reason to get up and cheer, as these reports seem to have been for months on end. This time, finally, though unfortunately, the jobs report wasn't what we had hoped it would be. Even still, there are plenty of places to pinpoint blame after a lackluster month for hiring – weather, sluggish investment, oil prices – and some experts believe that the deviation won't last, and we'll be back to impressively strong job creation soon enough.
The first quarter of 2015 wasn't what we thought
The latest jobs report is the weakest released since December 2013, and is far less than what experts had predicted for the month of March. In fact, the entire first quarter wasn't exactly what we had previously thought it to be. Job creation for January was revised down from 239,000 to over 201,000, while for February the numbers were cut from 295,000 to 264,000. The hiring total for both months was 69,000 less than what was previously thought.
Still, there are bright spots
However, despite the lack of positives in the latest job report, there are still a few things to take solace in. First is wage growth, which had for some time been stagnant as hiring took off, but has recently begun to tick up. Hourly wages for the private sector increased 0.3 percent in March and 0.1 percent in February. Though jobs aren't being created in droves as they were toward the end of 2014, at least wages are gradually increasing.
At least wages are gradually increasing.
It is also important to remember that March's jobs report, or all three from this quarter for that matter, don't have to be reflective of a wider trend, and could just be lackluster as a result of outside factors bound to change. For example, last year job creation during the winter months wasn't exactly something to cheer about either, but after the harsh weather of early 2014 wore off, spring brought with it a hiring surge that lasted up until the most recent setbacks this quarter. Additionally, the number of Americans who filed for unemployment in the final week of March dropped to a 15-year-low. With that, the four-week average, a strong indicator, was better-than-expected at 285,500.
Financial services hiring remained steady through March. Part of the reason for this may be that some people have been leaving their traditional finance jobs for technology jobs in the "fintech" sector, where exciting new opportunities wait for many.
Experts hope that this year will prove to be more of the same, with job creation surging as the weather warms – hopefully. Whatever this March's hiring numbers mean as 2015 rolls on, the general consensus is that this isn't a sign that the economy is heading backward.