Bureau of Labor Statistics: the March 2011 Employment Situation

The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Labor Department issued its latest monthly Employment Situation report on Friday morning.

the March result

The headline number is that the US economy added 216,000 new jobs during the month.  That breaks out into the hiring of 230,000 net new employees in the private sector, offset by the layoff of a net 14,000 government workers.

prior-month revisions

The February numbers, initially reported as a gain of 192,000 workers–222,000 new private sector hires, offset by a reduction of 30,000 by government–underwent the first of two revisions.  The new figures are only slightly higher in total, but differ somewhat in their composition:  the total gain is now 194,000 total jobs, made up of 240,000 new hires in the private sector and 46,000 net layoffs by government.

The January figures were revised for the second, and final time.  The results are as follows:

original report:    36,000 total job additions, 50,000 private sector, -14,000 government

Feb. revision:     63,000 total job additions, 68,000 private sector, -5,000 government

Mar. revision:     68,000 total job additions, 94,000 private sector, -46,000 government.


The most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) , released on March 11 and containing data as of January, shows that the number of unfilled job openings in the economy remains steady at about 2.5 million private sector jobs available and 300,000 or so in government, despite the accelerating rate of hiring.


Job creation in the private sector is clearly gaining strength, and at a faster rate than the consensus has been expecting.  In addition, monthly revisions of past data (as more reports from corporations trickle in) are turning out to be uniformly positive, both in the aggregate and for the private sector, which is an encouraging confirming sign of recovery.

Governments, in contrast, are beginning to pick up the pace of their layoffs.  Few, if any, are happening in Washington.  Rather,  states and municipalities are increasingly coming to grips with their continuing budget deficits by reducing their workforces.  There’s no reason to think this trend will change.

Interestingly–and, I think, correctly–investors are regarding both the private sector and government trends as positives.  They see the first as showing that the private sector is generating enough new jobs to offset not only new entrants into the labor force and those laid off from state and local government positions, but enough extra to begin to rehire some of those who lost work during the recession.  They see the second as governments starting to exercise some desired restraint in spending.

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