The Labor Department on Friday reported an increase of 180,000 jobs in the month of March beating Wall Street expectations and raising hopes that the U.S. economy remains robust.
The jobs increase, which keeps the unemployment rate at 4.4%, was due to increases in construction, retail and health care. Manufacturing jobs continued to trend downward. Average wages were up 6 cents, or 0.3%, over February. Both total employment, at 146.3 million, and the employment-population ratio, at 63.3%, were essentially unchanged in March. SEE THE DATA HERE.
The new construction jobs were concentrated in the commercial sector. In releasing the March numbers, the Labor Department stated, "Construction employment increased by 56,000 in March, mostly offsetting a decline of 61,000 in February. Unusually adverse weather likely contributed to February's decline. Overall, the construction industry has shown no net growth since employment peaked in September 2006. Over this span, job gains in the nonresidential components of construction have been more than offset by losses in the residential components."
The news sent bond prices down and yields up as hopes for a cut in interest rates by the Federal Reserve were dashed. The dollar gained against the Yen and the Euro. The stock markets were closed Friday due to the Good Friday holiday.