The Labor Department reported Friday that 103,000 jobs were created in the month of March, a sharp drop from a strong report in February, as the U.S. economy continues to struggle to generate strong employment gains on a consistent basis.
The mixed bag of jobs numbers was highlighted by revisions which increased the number of jobs created in February to 326,000, while decreasing the final figure for January back to 176,000.
Overall, unemployment remained at 4.1 percent, staying at the same level since October; the U6 jobless rate, considered to be the broadest measure of joblessness, improved to 8 percent.
Looking at the graphic above, there has not been a month of negative jobs growth since October of 2010, as the U.S. economy was finally beginning to emerge from the 2008 Wall Street Collapse.
But since then, the economy has never been able to generate enough momentum for consistently high jobs growth – many economists believe it needs to get over 300,000 jobs per month for a sustained period to help people who were hit the hardest in what’s been labeled the ‘Great Recession.’
Unlike previous months, the March jobs report showed the overall size of the labor force slightly shrinking by 158,000, only the second time that has happened in the last ten months.
The Labor Force Participation Rate ticked back to 62.9 percent, as many Americans still remain out of the work force, or unable to get back in to a job of their choice.
On the plus side, the number of people reporting that they were working multiple jobs dropped by 255,000 in March; those working in part-time jobs because they could not find a full-time position dropped by 141,000.
But the numbers were yet another reminder that while economic growth continues in the United States, the American economic engine still has not been able to get into a higher gear.
Unemployment for black Americans remained at 6.9 percent in March, just off a historic low a few months earlier.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump had predicted a strong jobs report.
“Our economy is strong. Our jobs are great,” Mr. Trump said during an event in West Virginia. “We’re going to come out with numbers on Friday that, hopefully, are going to be fantastic numbers.”
The new report was released as Mr. Trump was again vowing tough economic measures against China, as he authorized possible tariffs on another $100 billion in imports from China, a move which has concerned some GOP lawmakers, worried it will retard economic growth in the U.S.
On Friday morning, the President again used Twitter to say, “We are not in a trade war with China,” in a battle which began when the President hit China and other nations with tariffs on steel and aluminum.
The President’s actions on trade have worried many farm groups, and GOP lawmakers as well – Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said of the latest Trump tariff threat, “this is nuts.”