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 user 2005-04-03 at 12:42:00 pm Views: 49
  • #29357

    WASHINGTON (April 05) –
    Payroll growth across the country was sluggish in March as employers added just
    110,000 jobs, the smallest increase since July.

    The new figures, released by the Labor Department Friday,
    offered another mixed picture of America’s hiring climate. The job market has
    been the sector of the economy that has been among the slowest to recover from
    the last recession.

    Payroll growth, as measured by a survey of businesses,
    slowed in March. Job losses at factories and in the retail sector tempered gains
    in professional and business services, construction, education and health
    services and in other industries.

    The 110,000 jobs added in March marked the smallest gain
    since last July, when payrolls grew by a tepid 83,000. March’s payroll gain was
    half of the roughly 220,000 jobs that economists had forecast before the report
    was released. Job gains for February, meanwhile, were revised slightly downward
    to 243,000 from the initial 262,000 reported a month ago.

    The civilian U.S. unemployment rate is calculated from a
    separate statistical survey than the payroll figures. The two statistical
    methods often can – and do – offer seemingly conflicting pictures of what is
    happening in the labor market.

    The seasonally adjusted overall civilian unemployment rate
    dropped to 5.2 percent in March from 5.4 percent in February. The household
    survey showed that 357,000 people said they found employment last month,
    outpacing the number of people who couldn’t find work. Thus, the fractional
    decrease in the overall jobless rate.

    Analysts believe the economy in the first three months of
    2005 grew at an annual rate of 4 percent or higher, according to some
    projections. Economic growth probably will slow a bit in the current
    April-to-June quarter but should still remain at a healthy pace to spur decent
    job gains in the months ahead, they said.

    Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and his colleagues,
    meeting last week, said “labor market conditions continue to improve

    President Bush – who was dogged with questions about the
    health of the job market throughout his first term in office – wants to see the
    labor market and the overall economy thriving as he seeks to sell the American
    public and politicians a revamp of the Depression era Social Security

    Fed policy-makers are feeling upbeat about the economy’s
    growth, yet are concerned about a potential pickup in inflation. They boosted
    interest rates last week for the seventh time since June 2004. An additional
    increase to hold inflation in check is expected at the Fed’s next meeting, on
    May 3.

    Workers’ average hourly earnings rose in March to $15.95, a
    0.3 percent increase from the previous month, slightly higher than economists
    were forecasting.

    For jobseekers it is still a difficult climate. There were
    7.7 million people unemployed in March with the average duration of 19.5 weeks
    without work, the highest since November.

    The share of the working-age population working or actively
    seeking a job in March continued to hold steady at 65.8 percent, a nearly
    17-year low first reached in January.