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Market Reporting that Matters

March 2018 Jobs Report

Unemployment Unchanged as Job Gains Slow

Friday, April 6, 2018

The U.S. economy added only 103,000 jobs in March 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This was the 90th consecutive monthly gain, but the lowest monthly total in six months. For the first quarter of 2018, more than 600,000 new jobs have been added to the economy. The U3, or “headline,” unemployment rate remained at 4.1% for the sixth straight month but was 40 basis points (bps) lower than March 2017’s rate.

Revisions to the previous two months’ numbers resulted in a net decrease of 50,000 jobs to the estimates. January’s was revised down from 239,000 to 176,000, while February’s job-gain figure of 313,000 was revised to 326,000.



Top Two Job Gain Markets Slow Their Growth

By the Numbers


Annual job growth was 1.5% in March, even with the rate for the past 12 months, but 10 bps lower than March 2017. Annual job gains exceeded 2.2 million for seven of the past 12 months at 2.261 million, although this was 20,000 less than March 2017’s total.

Despite steady job gains, average hourly earnings (wages) for privately employed workers increased only 0.3% in March. March saw an 8 cent increase from February to $26.82, representing a more moderate 2.7% increase from a year ago. Annual wage growth has averaged about 2.6% for the previous two years.

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The civilian labor force participation rate slipped 10 bps to 62.9% but has averaged 62.8% since 2014, while the employment-population ratio of 60.4% held steady from the previous month. Although the civilian labor force participation rate has essentially held steady for the past four years, the employment-population ratio has been slowly increasing since 2011.

The number of part-time workers for economic reasons (5.019 million in March) decreased by 141,000 from January, and was down by 481,000 from March 2017. The U6 unemployment rate, which includes these part-timers and marginally attached workers, dropped to 8.0% in March, 80 bps lower than one year ago and its lowest level since November 2017.

The number of long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more) decreased by 75,000 from February and 338,000 from March 2017 to 1.322 million on a seasonally adjusted basis. The number of multiple jobholders decreased by 336,000 from March 2017 to 7.8 million, and the number of discouraged workers not in the workforce (450,000) decreased by 10,000 from one year ago.

Industry Focus

The not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the Mining and oil & gas industry increased in March from last year, jumping 280 bps, while most other industries declined. Government unemployment increased 60 bps while Information ticked up 10 bps. Professional & Business Services fell 130 bps and Construction declined 100 bps. Transportation & Utilities fell 70 bps, while Manufacturing dropped by 60 and the remaining industry sectors dropped from 20-50 bps.

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Seasonally adjusted industry gains flattened in most industry categories in March, compared to February. Solid gains occurred in the Professional & Business Services (+33,000), Education & Health Services (+25,000), Manufacturing (+22,000), and Trade, Transportation, & Utilities (+21,000) industries, Construction (-15,000) and Other Services (-1,000) were the only industries to shed jobs last month.

Job gains by industry chart

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  • The largest contribution to the Professional and Business Services supersector’s job gains were in the higher-paying professional and technical services subsector (+18,900), particularly in accounting and bookkeeping services (+9,600) as tax season approaches. Another 11,700 jobs were added in administrative and waste services.
  • Education & Health Services experienced another strong gain in hospitals (+9,900) and ambulatory health care services (+16,200), as well as social assistance (+11,400), but educational services decreased by 9,000 in March.
  • The Manufacturing industry’s gains were all in durable goods subsectors such as fabricated metal parts (+8,800) and transportation equipment (+4,800) as nondurable goods subsectors were a net sum zero despite gains in food manufacturing (+3,300) and miscellaneous nondurable goods (+3,500).
  • The Trade, Transportation and Utilities industry saw gains in three of four sectors with the bulk of gains in wholesale trade (+11,400) and transportation and warehousing (+9,800), particularly truck transportation (+6,700) and couriers and messengers (+5,800). Utilities added 4,000 jobs while retail trade lost 4,400 jobs with general merchandise stores (-12,600) the largest subsector loss.
  • The Mining & Logging industry gained 8,000 jobs in March, with support activities for mining adding 5,500 jobs for the month.
  • Leisure & Hospitality had tepid growth for March (+5,000), with the bulk of job gains in the accommodation subsector (+4,300). Bad weather in March may have affected hiring in the food services and drinking places subsector, which was a net zero.
  • The Financial Activities industry’s 2,000 new jobs were largely provided by the real estate and rental leasing (+3,500) subsector while finance and insurance lost 1,600 jobs.
  • The Information industry (+2,000) experienced only its second monthly job gain in 14 months as the volatile motion picture and sound recording subsector added 2,600 jobs and data processing, hosting and related services added 2,900. Telecommunications employment fell by 2,000 jobs.
  • Local government employment (+3,000) outpaced losses in federal and state employment (-1,000 each) for a net gain of 1,000 in March.
  • The Other Services sector lost 1,000 jobs, with the bulk of losses in the personal and laundry services (-2,800) subsector. Repair and maintenance employment increased by 1,400 jobs.
  • The Construction industry was also influenced by bad weather with a net loss of 15,000 jobs in March. Residential and nonresidential specialty trade contractors (-9,400 and -6,800, respectively) were the culprits.

Top Two Job Gain Markets Slow Their Growth

Nine of the top 10 metros from January returned in the list for February (the latest metro data available), although there was some movement among the positions in the top 10.

The top four metros returned, with New York retaining its No. 1 spot with 96,100 jobs gained. Dallas and Houston each improved one spot to displace Los Angeles to the No. 4 spot. Rounding out the top five was Phoenix, which moved up one spot with an additional 60,000 jobs in February.

Riverside (55,600 jobs added) ranked sixth, while Seattle slipped two spots to No. 7 and the two Southeast markets (Atlanta and Orlando) returned to the eighth and ninth spots with 52,600 and 43,800 jobs added, respectively. Washington, D.C. reentered the top 10 with an annual gain of 39,500 jobs after languishing at the No. 11 spot for the previous two months. Anaheim slipped out of No. 10 to No. 13 this month.

Other markets eclipsing 30,000 jobs gained include Austin, Denver, Anaheim, Charlotte, San Jose and Tampa. Portland, West Palm Beach and Charlotte saw their annual job gains slow by more than 3,500 jobs from their January totals.

The top 10 job gain markets in February 2018 accounted for 599,400 jobs added – more than 26% of the nation’s total job gain during that period. Taking those same 10 markets and comparing their current gains to one year prior shows how strong performance was for those markets during this reporting period. The 599,400 jobs added was 21,600 greater than the 577,800 these 10 markets accounted for in February 2017. If comparing the difference in job growth on a percentage basis for the two time periods, Houston is the clear-cut winner. The market’s 2.2% job growth in February 2018 was a full 210 basis point improvement from the weak growth during the previous February.

Other major metro movers included:

  • Columbus jumped from No. 92 to No. 41.
  • Newark moved up from No. 82 to No. 50.
  • Cincinnati went up from No. 96 to No. 75.

Several metros moved down the list:

  • West Palm Beach fell from No. 48 to No. 87.
  • Louis dropped from No. 45 to No. 68.
  • Omaha fell from No. 81 to No. 102.

Annual job growth slowed in five of the top 10 markets in February:

  • Washington, DC (-89 bps)
  • New York (-62 bps)
  • Atlanta (-57 bps)
  • Orlando(-52 bps)
  • Dallas (-35 bps)

Annual job growth was up in:

  • Houston (+211 bps)
  • Riverside (+68 bps)
  • Seattle (+57 bps)
  • Los Angeles (+26 bps)
  • Phoenix(+24 bps)

Two Louisiana markets struggled in February. Both Baton Rouge and New Orleans joined the bottom five markets with annual job losses of 2,100 and 3,900, respectively. Baton Rouge dropped more than 4,000 jobs in the heavy and civil engineering construction subsector while New Orleans had several industries experience losses: professional & business services (-2,500), retail trade (-1,700), information (-1,200) and financial activities (-1,100).

Wilmington has lost 2,200 jobs in the accommodation & food services subsector, while Bridgeport’s losses were primarily in professional & business services (-1,200). Naples’ employment base contracted by 4,300 jobs, with sharp declines in retail trade (-2,000) and leisure & hospitality (-1,400).

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Access the current job-growth spreadsheet here.

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By the Numbers

The following table shows February 2018 (the latest data available) metropolitan-area job gain and job growth, some grouped by state or region.

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