U.S. labor market seesaws back up

The labor market has seesawed back up with an estimated 196,000 jobs added to United States payrolls in March.

Initial estimates for payroll gains in January and February were revised upward, and the March unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.8 percent.

The March numbers contrast with those for February, when nonfarm payrolls increased 33,000. Payrolls swelled 312,000 in January.

Given the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, payrolls grew an average of 180,000 a month during the first quarter of 2019. That’s less than the average monthly gain of 223,000 in 2018.

U.S. payrolls have increased 102 straight months.

Still, 6.2 million people were counted among those unsuccessfully looking for work in March. Of those, 1.3 million have been out of work 27 weeks or more.

Another 4.5 million were counted among those working part-time because their hours have been cut or they’re unable to find full-time positions.

The labor force participation rate declined two-tenths of a point to 63 percent.

Job gains in March were spread out among a number of industry sectors. Employment increased 49,000 in health care, 34,000 in professional and technical services and 27,000 in food services and at drinking places. Construction payrolls grew 16,000. Manufacturing payrolls shrank 6,000.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls increased a tenth of an hour to 34.5 hours. The average manufacturing workweek held steady at 40.7 hours.

Average hourly wages rose 4 cents to $27.70. Over the past year, hourly wages have increased 3.2 percent.