Inside March’s BLS Jobs Report

This is my monthly look inside the BLS Employment Situation Report.

– Headline Nonfarm jobs was +120,000.
– Unemployment Rate was down at 8.2% in compared to 8.3% in February 2012
– Average hourly wage $23.39 up from $23.34 in February 2012
– Average work week was 34.5 hours down from 34.6 in February 2012
– Private jobs were +121,000. Government jobs were -1,000

Reading beneath the surface:

-Good producing jobs were +31,000. The 3 previous months were +20,000, +78,000 and +48,000.

-The size of the civilian labor force fell from 154,871,000 to 154,707,000 a decline of 164,000. This explains why the Unemployment rate went down.

-The labor participation rate (percent of adult non-institutionalized population who are part of the labor force) fell to 63.8% from 63.9%. It was 64.2% a year ago. This, not the unemployment rate, is the number which should get everyone’s attention. Some of this is structural and some is cyclical.

– the size of the civilian population rose by 179,000 in March. With a labor participation rate of 63.8% 108,000 more jobs were necessary to keep pace with population growth. We had 12,000 more jobs than that.

According to the 4 week moving average of Initial Jobless Claims 1,447,000 people lost their jobs in the last 4 weeks. That normalizes to 1,567,500 lost jobs in a calendar month (there are about 13 4 week periods in a 12 month year.) This is down from the previous month’s 1,637,000 lost jobs/month.

If 1,567,500 people lost their jobs last month and we gained 121,000 jobs, how did that happen? The answers are in the Household Survey.

In March 2012 BLS measured 4 sets of people entering or leaving the jobs market:

– Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs was 7,080,000 down 189,000 from February’s Job Losers and down 1,224,000 from February 2012.

-Job leavers was 1,117,000. This includes anyone who retired or voluntarily left working. This was up 86,000 from previous month and up 227,000 from February 2011.

-Reentrants was 3,269,000. Reentrants are people who were looking for a job a found one. This was -92,000 from previous month and -9,000 from February 2011.

-New entrants were 1,433,000. These are unemployed persons who never worked before and who are entering the labor force for the first time. This was +41,000 from previous month and +98,000 from February 2011.

The presentation of the total change in jobs is like looking at the final score of a game. The details tell the story:

– 120,000 more people are working

– 164,000 fewer people are in the civilian labor force

– 189,000 fewer people lost their jobs

– 86,000 more people left their jobs

– 92,000 fewer reentrants obtained jobs.
See Also:
Rates Dive On March Jobs Report