Hot off the virtual press is the Employment Report for March. The key numbers are:
- Total nonfarm employment was up 162,000, with 48,000 accounted for by the hiring of temporary workers for Census 2010.
- Nonfarm employment growth in the prior two months was revised upward by a combined 62,000 jobs.
- Manufacturing employment was up 17,000, with 45,000 jobs added over the past three months.
- Temporary help services added 40,000 jobs over the month and over 300,000 jobs since September.
- Total unemployment stayed at 9.7 percent, with net job gains in the household survey offset by increases in the labor force.
- The composition of the unemployed shifted toward those unemployed for longer than 26 weeks.
I say that this report is good enough for now because this is what the labor market looks like when it starts to bottom out and slowly recover — overall job growth turns small and positive, cyclically sensitive sectors like temporary help services grow more rapidly than most, and it is tough to make progress against the unemployment rate because the number of job seekers may go up in tandem with total employment. I was at CEA in 2003-4 as the labor market went through the bottom of its last cycle, and I am having a little deja vu.