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The 5 Things You Need to Know from the March Jobs Report

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We're a third of the way through the year, and the U.S. economy is gearing up for a strong 2016: the Fed is closely monitoring job growth before they make another decision later in April.

But here's what YOU need to know from this month's job report:


jobs report icons-03215,000 jobs were added in March

This gain is a marked improvement over last March's 126,000 gain. In fact, over the past three months, the economy has averaged 209,000 jobs per month. This strong growth signals that our economy is continuing to improve despite a strong dollar abroad and an uneven stock market.




jobs report icons-04Participation rate on the rise

The labor force participation rate is a measure of how many people are active in the U.S. labor force today. This metric includes people who are currently working, as well as people who are actively looking for work. The participation rate also reveals how much of the workforce is disengaged... and for the past few years, it's been at historical lows, which means more Americans than ever are not participating in the workforce.

But the labor force participation rate has gradually increased over the past 6 months. The rate has increased by 0.6 points since its 40-year record low in September 2015, and in April it increased slightly to 63%.



jobs report icons-02Retail, construction, and health care see the most job growth 

Retail trade led the pack in March for job gains, adding 48,000 jobs. Construction and healthcare each added 37,000 jobs as well. Growth in retail, which includes automotive sales, clothing, electronics, and groceries, signals a strong consumer market. The increase in construction employment means more individuals and businesses are investing in the economy.

Healthcare has been a leader in job growth ever since the Affordable Care Act went into effect. More specifically, ambulatory health care services (+27,000) and hospitals (+10,000) added jobs in March.



jobs report icons-01Manufacturing and mining still hurting

Overall job growth looks good, but not every industry is happy. The manufacturing and mining sectors have each seen consistent month-over-month losses. In March, manufacturing employment declined by 29,000 and mining employment declined by 12,000. The mining sector has been hurt by the glut of international oil and the resulting low prices: 2015 saw the third most job losses ever since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking in 1939.




jobs report icons-05Wages are increasing... slowly

Wage growth over the past year has concerned many economists, who see a disconnect between the country's healthy employment gains and the sluggish increases in average hourly earnings. The slow growth could stem from job gains in predominantly low-wage sectors such as retail and hospitality. It could also come from employers who still have a Recession-era attitude toward hiring.

Whatever the reason for past stagnation, wages have begun to crawl upward. In March, average hourly earnings increased by 7 cents to $25.43. Year over year, they have increased by 2.3%. These wage increases matter for more than just the workers receiving paychecks; the Fed is closely watching wage growth and participation as factors that could impact its interest rate decisions later this month.