While the unemployment rate remained steady at 9.7 percent for the third straight month, in March the nation's economy posted its largest job gain in three years.
According to recent Labor Department calculations, employers added 162,000 jobs last month— the most since the recession began more than two years ago. As The Huffington Post reports, “The total includes 48,000 temporary workers hired for the U.S. Census, also fewer than many economists forecast. Private employers added 123,000 jobs, the most since May 2007.”
Both public and private sectors felt an uptick in hiring, with temp services adding 40,000 workers; health care generating 7,000 jobs; and hospitality adding 22,000 positions. Even the troubled construction industry added 15,000 positions, with previously mediocre manufacturers another 17,000.
Hiring increases are the latest bellwether that America’s beleaguered economy is currently in recovery—albeit with the caveat that this momentum won’t likely be enough to make a quick dent in the nation’s record unemployment rates.
"It's just the beginning of a rise in private hiring that will help sustain the recovery," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group told The Huffington Post’s Christopher Rugaber. "They're not big numbers, but they're welcome numbers."
“Welcome numbers” mostly because there are still 15 million Americans out of work, about twice as many as prior to the recession’s beginnings in late 2007. And with more people entering the U.S. work force in March, even with the increases last month, the unemployment rate hasn’t budged. Plus, it appears the average hourly earnings fell to $22.47 with high unemployment creating just the leverage businesses need to keep down wages. In addition, the number of those out of work for six months or longer increased to 6.5 million, a record high with more than 44 percent of those out of work are long-term unemployed, also a record.
"For those laid off, unemployment is stretching longer and longer and putting severe distress on families," Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit advocacy group told The HuffPost.
Still, these new job figures show both spending and manufacturing sectors growing faster than they have in five years. As The Huffington Post reported, “Economists are increasingly confident that the nation will avoid a "double-dip" recession, in which growth slows after a short burst at the end of last year.Analysts expect the economy will expand at a roughly 3 percent pace in the current January-to-March quarter. That's roughly half the 5.6 percent pace seen in the final quarter of last year. Normally, growth in the 3 percent range would be considered respectable. But the nation is emerging from the worst recession since the 1930s. Growth needs to be in the 5 percent range or higher to quickly drive down the unemployment rate. Both the Federal Reserve and Obama administration expect joblessness will remain above 9 percent through the end of this year.”
But it’s not all bad news on the homefront. In addition to manufacturing and construction gains, some predict that within the next eight years, millions of jobs openings could appear in education, health care, government and nonprofit.
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