BLS: March Job Growth Cools

April 1, 2005 ( - The US job picture for March was surprisingly weak as employers only tacked on 110,000 new jobs over the month - the smallest gain in eight months and half the advance analysts had been expecting.

The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also Friday revised down January and February’s previously released totals. BLS said 243,000 jobs were created in February and 124,000 in January instead of 262,000 and 132,000, respectively – 27,000 fewer jobs.

Analysts had been looking for a 220,000 job gain for March, according to a Reuters report.

The good news in Friday’s report was that the March jobless rate declined to 5.2% from 5.4%.

According to the BLS data, manufacturing employment was little changed (-8,000) in March.  Small job losses occurred in textile mills (-2,000) and apparel (-5,000), as both industries continued to experience long-term job declines.  Since last summer, manufacturing employment has declined slightly, the BLS said.
Meanwhile, in the service-providing sector, health care added 16,000 jobs in March, with hospitals accounting for half of the growth. Over the year, health care employment has increased by 243,000. Wholesale trade employment was up by 15,000 over the month, with gains in both its durable and nondurable components.  Since its most recent low in August 2003, the industry has added 112,000 jobs.
Employment in professional and business services continued to trend upward in March (27,000), BLS said.  Over the year, monthly job gains in this category have averaged 51,000.  Within professional and business services, temporary help employment was about unchanged in March, following an increase of 26,000 in February.
The government data showed that elsewhere among service-providing industries, employment continued to trend up in food services and in credit intermediation. Following strong growth in February, retail trade employment was about unchanged in March. The industry has added 89,000 jobs over the year.  In March, job losses continued in air transportation with the industry losing 127,000 jobs since its peak in April 2001.