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April US Jobs Report

Event: On a seasonally adjusted basis, total nonfarm employment increased by 98,000 and the unemployment rate fell by 20 basis points to a cycle low of 4.50% in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in its monthly jobs report. Temporary help services employment increased by 0.35% in March, adding 10,500 jobs. The temporary agency penetration rate inched up to 2.054%, an all-time high.

Background and Analysis: On a year-over-year (y/y) basis (March 2017 over March 2016), total nonfarm employment was up 1.5%, and monthly job gains have averaged approximately 182,000 over the past 12 months. Temporary help employment was up 3.8% y/y, with monthly job gains averaging approximately 9,200 over the past 12 months. 

The economic sectors that most drove total nonfarm employment growth in March included professional services (excluding temporary help, +45,500), and healthcare (+16,700). Declining on the month were retail trade (-29,700) and information (-3,000).

BLS Revisions: The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from +238,000 to +216,000, and the change for February was revised from +235,000 to +219,000. With these revisions, total nonfarm employment gains during the two-month period were 38,000 less than previously reported.

The change in temporary help services employment for January was revised from +6,500 to +15,100, and the change for February was revised from +3,100 to +8,900. With these revisions, temporary help employment growth was 14,400 greater than previously reported..  

Staffing Industry Analysts’ Perspective: Total nonfarm jobs growth in March fell far short of the +180K median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, as well as the pace set in the first two months of the year, though this was likely due in part to severe weather impacting the Northeast and Midwest. On a more positive note, the unemployment rate declined to 4.5%, its lowest level since prior to the onset of the Great Recession.

Professional services and healthcare were primary drivers of employment gains, supported by strength in manufacturing (+11K) and natural resources & mining (+11K), which showed their fourth- and fifth-consecutive months of growth, respectively. Retail trade (-30K), on the other hand, contracted markedly for the second straight month.

Temporary help was a bright spot within a monthly employment report that mostly underwhelmed, showing a gain above its trailing-12-month average and continuing to accelerate on a year-over-year basis. Though the temporary agency penetration rate has only risen less than four basis points in the last two years, we anticipate more new highs in this metric during 2017.

Corporate Member subscribers may download employment figures in greater detail from a link that will appear below:  

Monthly Employment Situation April 2017 - You do not have permission to view this object.

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