Unemployment Rate Drops to 8.8%, Lowest in Two Years with Net Gains of 216,000 Jobs

The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics reported today an improvement in the unemployment rate for March – down to 8.8% from 8.9% last month. The unemployment rate is at a two year low. The economy saw net job gains of 216,000 non-farm payroll employment (192,000 jobs were added in February). While there are still 13.5 million people unemployed, the jobless rate changed very little in March and overall this is a good jobs report. Some of the biggest gains were made in the professional and business services (78,000), health care (37,000), leisure and hospitality sectors (37,000), and manufacturing (17,000) sectors. While economists are indicating signs of a recovery, there are some areas that may impact whether this is a more robust one, specifically in relation to middle-income wage earners, the sector of the job market that we focus on. They have experienced wage gains of only 1.7% this past year. With gas and food prices going up faster than their wages, this may impact them more closely. For the overall economy, two sectors to watch as the summer approaches are leisure and hospitality. Increase in these areas will indicate if discretionary spending is rising.

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