Friday 5 April 2019 2:23 pm

Employment in US surges after weak February but wage growth slows

Reporter covering economics and markets. You can send me stories or get in touch at

Reporter covering economics and markets. You can send me stories or get in touch at

The US created 196,000 new jobs in March in a marked improvement from February's dramatic slowdown, it was revealed today.

Read more: US economic growth unexpectedly slows in final quarter

However, wage growth slowed to 3.2 per cent in March compared to a year earlier after growing 3.4 per cent in February, mixed US economic data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed.

Total non-farm payroll new employment – an important gauge of the health of the American economy – rose in March from an unexpectedly low figure of 33,000 in February.

Economists had been expecting a figure of 180,000. The March jobs figures were much closer to the average gain of 223,000 jobs per month in 2018 than the low February figures.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remained at 3.8 per cent, near record-level lows.

Notable employment gains came in health care and in professional and technical services, BLS said. Manufacturing employment showed little change from February, although the number of jobs fell by 6,000 in March.

In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by $0.04 to $27.70, following a $0.10 gain in February.

Erik Norland, senior economist at CME Group, said: “Ordinarily, numbers like these might cause the [US Federal Reserve] to have a think about hiking rates again. That said, despite the tight labour market, growth in average hourly earnings moderated from 3.4 per cent to 3.2 per cent, showing that inflation pressures are not especially alarming.”

“Overall today’s number endorses the Fed’s decision to stay on hold while they wait and see how the economy digests the nine interest rate hikes and balance sheet reduction that they have already undertaken during the past few years,” he said.

Vice president at Charles Schwab, Kully Samra, said: “The outlook for the US economy remains strong relative to slowing global growth. Job numbers today have surpassed expectations and wage growth is on the rise. We continue to believe that wages will gradually increase, even if hiring slows.”

Read more: US services sector continues its trend of solid growth

Centtrip chief analyst Stephen Hubble said: “Today’s non-farm payroll release shows that the freak number in February was just that – a freak – and that the US labour market continues to be a beacon in a world consumed with trade tensions and concerns over decelerating economic growth.”