Jobs Report: Monthly Employment Growth Statistics

Why Were Only 98,000 Jobs Added in March?

Retail shed jobs in March.

The U.S. economy added 98,000 jobs in March 2017. That's much lower than the 219,000 jobs added in February, and the 216,000 jobs added in January. If the trend continues, it would signal an alarming drop in growth. That's because the economy needs 150,000 each month to keep expanding. That would make it less likely the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates at its June 15 FOMC meeting

Where Were the Losses?

Retail lost 29,700 jobs.

 Store managers are cutting jobs, after adding them for upticks in consumer spending during the holidays. That included record-high Black Friday sales. For similar reasons, wholesale shed 400 jobs. 

Information services lost 3,000 jobs. This sector is critical to American global competitiveness. For more, see Silicon Valley

Where Were the Gains?

Construction only gained 6,000 jobs, after adding 59,000 in February. That signals the end of a seasonal spurt in the housing market. That compares to the 43,000 jobs the sector added in March 2016.

Health care has consistently been the strongest performer, both during and after the recession. It only added 16,700 jobs in March, after adding 36,900 jobs in February. 

Leisure and hospitality only added 9,000 jobs, after adding 27,000 in February. They aren't as well paid as healthcare and banking, and so don't contribute as much to overall economic growth.

U.S. manufacturing gained 11,000 jobs despite a strong dollar that hurts exports. Durable goods gained 11,000 jobs. That was helped by a 3,000 job gain in auto manufacturing. The sector shed 20,000 jobs in March 2016.

Pay close attention to how many manufacturing jobs are added or lost each month, since this is a future indicator of economic health.

That's because factories are less likely to add workers until they have the orders in hand. That provides a better leading indicator of future economic performance than does service employment. Those job levels stay more consistent through thick and thin.  

The mining industry gained 11,000 jobs. That's because oil prices rose. OPEC agreed to limit its output. That occurred as excess supply from U.S. shale oil producers was getting absorbed. For details, see Future Oil Prices.

The government gained 9,000 positions, after losing 2,000 in February. This could decline further as President Trump streamlines the federal government.

Financial activities added 9,000 jobs. Banks filled more positions since they expect the Fed will continue to increase interest rates this year. That brings greater profitability to lenders. Find out why in How Banking Works.

Temporary help services gained 10,500 jobs. Companies often add temp jobs when business is picking up, but they aren't confident enough to add full-time positions.

What Is the U.S. Jobs Report?

Definition: The monthly Jobs Report is also called the "Employment Situation Summary" and the "Non-Farm Payroll Report." It's a critical economic indicator because it's the first report of the month.

It's also the most comprehensive and credible.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys 160,000 non-farm businesses and agencies on the number of jobs, as well as the wages paid, and the hours worked. The jobs report will tell you which industries are adding jobs, whether American workers are working longer hours, and how fast salaries are increasing. 

The jobs report also provides the provides the unemployment rate. To get the number of unemployed, the BLS must undertake a separate survey of households, not businesses. This household report also includes workers' age, sex, and race/ethnicity. The household survey has a more expansive scope than the establishment survey. That's because it includes the self-employed, unpaid family workers, agricultural workers, and private household workers, who are excluded by the establishment survey.

The household survey is not as accurate as the business establishment survey because it has a smaller sample size. That's why employment numbers are taken from the establishment survey. Here are Current Unemployment Statistics.

There are two other jobs reports. The monthly ADP National Employment Report® is released on the first Wednesday of each month. It's produced by the ADP Research InstituteSM and Moody’s Analytics. It uses business payroll data to report on the number of jobs added in the private sector. It excludes farming (as does the BLS report) and, more important, government jobs (included in the BLS report). For that reason, it's incomplete.

The ADP Report is important because it's released the Wednesday before the BLS report. It gives some analysts an earlier view of what might happen in the Friday report. ADP is quick to say it's not intended to be predictive. Like the BLS report, it's revised as more data comes in later in the month. These revised numbers are 96 percent correlated with the revised BLS jobs report. See the latest monthly ADP report.

The Department of Labor also releases a weekly jobless claims report. This measures the claims for initial unemployment benefits reported by each state every week. It also reports how many of the unemployed are still receiving benefits. This report gives an indication of trends, whether there are more or less unemployed than the week before. The main value of this report is that it is weekly, so it gives some idea of trends in between the monthly jobs reports. But it doesn't accurately predict the monthly report. Furthermore, it is very volatile, which can be very misleading. See the latest weekly jobless claims report.

Jobs Reports

2017 Jobs  (Final Est) Jobs  (1st  Est)GrowthLossesComments
Jan238227Retail, ConstructionGov't.Housing market boom.
Feb219235Constr. HealthRetail
Jan 168,000 151,000Retail, Construction, Health Care  
Feb 233,000 242,000Mining, Mfg 
Mar 208,000 215,000 
Apr 144,000 160,000Health Care, BankingMining, government, retail 
May  11,000   38,000 Mfg, Oil  Strong dollar hurts exports.
Jun 292,000 287,000

Hotels, HC

Jul 275,000 255,000  
Aug167,000 151,000Hotels, Retail, HC Gains didn't help incumbent party candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016 Presidential Race 
Sep208,000156,000Construction, HCMfg, Oil
Nov204,000178,000IT, Mfg
Dec155,000156,000Hotels, HCIT, Temp help 
2015 2.744  Million Jobs  Created
Jan 221,000 257,000Retail, Construction, Healthcare  
Feb 265,000 295,000  
Mar  84,000 126,000Temp  
Apr 251,000 223,000Temp, Construction,HC  
May 273,000 280,000Retail, Hotels, HC  
Jun 228,000 223,000Retail, Healthcare  
Jul 277,000 215,000  
Aug 150,000 173,000 Mfg. Strong dollar hurt exports.
Sep 149,000 142,000 Mfg, Oil 
Oct 295,000 271,000Retail, Hotels, HC  
Nov 280,000 211,000Construction, HC, Retail  
Dec 271,000 292,000Hotels, HC, Construction  
20143.015 Million Jobs Created  
Jan187,000133,000  Dow rose 165 points.
Feb168,000175,000 Winter storms hurt jobs
Mar272,000192,000  Exceeded estimates.
May213,000217,000HC, HotelsIT 
Jun306,000288,000HC, Hotels, Retail, IT  
Jul232,000202,000HC, Retail, Hotels Lower than expected.
Aug218,000142,000HC, ConstructionRetail, Auto, IT 
Sep286,000248,000Retail, Hotels, HC Back-to-school. 
Oct200,000214,000Retail, Hotels, HCITHalloween
Nov331,000321,000Retail, HC, Hotels, IT   Biggest gain in 3 years. Stores hired for Black Friday.
20132.311 Million Jobs Created  
Feb311,000236,000Construction, Retail  
Mar135,000  88,000 Retail hit from bad weather.
Apr192,000165,000  Dow exceeds 15,000.
May218,000175,000Construction Dow rose 200 points. 
Jul140,000162,000Retail, Hotel  
Sep185,000143,000  Expansionary monetary policy
Oct189,000204,000The government shutdown delayed the survey allowing more businesses to report.
Dec  45,000  71,000 Across-the-boardPoor holiday sales.
20122.149 Million Jobs Added  
Jan338,000243,000Hotels, MFG.  
Feb257,000227,000Business growth made everyone think the economy had finally healed.
Mar239,000120,000 RetailPoor growth across the board.
Apr  75,000115,000 Construction was hurt by foreclosures. Government was cutting budgets.
May115,00065,000 Seasonal weakness sent the Dow down 275 points.
Jun  87,00080,000 The Dow dropped 180 points on the poor jobs report.  
Jul143,000163,000The Dow gained 217 points on the strong report.
Sep181,000114,000Former GE CEO Jack Welch was suspicious that so many jobs were added right before the Presidential election. It's explained here.
Oct132,000171,000The strong jobs report came out a week before the election. Data was collected before Superstorm Sandy hit.
Nov149,000146,000Hurricane Sandy devastated New York, but didn't affect national jobs numbers.
Dec243,000155,000  Fiscal cliff forced co's to hire less.
20112.087 Million Jobs Added  
Jan  42,00036,000The economy had 984,000 more jobs than the year before.
Feb188,000192,000MFG jobs up 189,000 YOY 
May  73,00054,000The weak report sent the Dow and dollar down, and gold up.
Jul  70,000117,000  Dow dropped 400 points.
Aug107,000The first report said no jobs were created, giving urgency to Obama's jobs speech the following week.
Nov146,000120,000Strong retail sales boosted job growth. 
20101.066 Million Jobs Added  
Jan  28,00018,000U.S. Census added 52,000 temporary jobs
Feb -69,000-50,00048,000 temporary jobs (15,000 Census) 
Mar163,000156,000 MFTG down 633,000 YOY
Apr 243,000290,000Census added 63,000 temp jobs. MFG added 44,000 jobs 
May 522,000431,000Census added 411,000 temp jobs 
Jun-133,000-125,000 The Census laid off 225,000 temp workers.
Jul  -70,000-121,000The Census laid off 143,000, but business hiring was up by 71,000 jobs.
Aug  -34,000-31,000The first y-o-y job gain in 26 months. (up 229,000 in the past year.)
Sep  -52,000-91,000344,000 more jobs than the year earlier.
Oct 257,000150,000   
Nov 123,00039,000  .
Dec   88,000103,000BusinessesGovt.  
20095.070 Million Jobs Lost  
Jan-791,000 -598,000   
Feb-703,000-651,000 MFG lost 1.2 million jobs YOY.
Mar-823,000-663,000 4.8 million jobs lost Y-O-Y, the most since the 2001 recession.
May-351,000-345,000 MFG lost 1.6 million jobs YOY
Dec-279,000N.A. MFG lost 1.3 million jobs YOY
20083.569 Million Jobs Lost  
Jan15,000-17,000 MFG lost 2.7% of its jobs YOY
March-78,000-80,000 The last time YOY job growth fell this much was in 2001, which led to 29 months of job losses.
May-185,000  -49,000  
June-165,000  -62,000   
July-209,000  -51,000 150,000 jobs lost YOY
Aug-266,000  -84,000   
Nov-769,000-533,000 1.9 million jobs lost YOY. 604,000 in MFG
Dec-695,000-524,000 Employment declined by 2.5 million jobs, faster than in the 2001 recession, which never lost more than 2.1 million jobs in any 12-month period.

2007 Employment Statistics

  • December: Only 18,000 new jobs were added. Year-over-year, jobs increased only 1%, while manufacturing jobs were down 1.5%. This was the worst performance this year.
  • November: Only 94,000 new jobs were added, an increase year-over-year of only 1.1%, the worst since 2004. Manufacturing jobs were down 1.3% from the prior year.
  • October: Although the economy added 166,000 new jobs from September to October, year-over-year was up only 1.2%, the worst since 2004. Manufacturing jobs also continued their worsening trend, down 1.6% since the prior year.
  • September: Jobs increased 1.2% year-over-year, the weakest job growth since 2004, and increased 110,000 from the previous month. Manufacturing jobs declined 1.6% from the year before.
  • August: Since the previous month, 4,000 jobs were eliminated in the overall economy, while year-over-year jobs only increased by 1.2%. Manufacturing jobs declined 1.5% from the year before.
  • July: Only 92,000 jobs were created in July, which resulted in a 1.4% increase from the year before. Manufacturing jobs declined 1.2% from the year before.
  • June: Although jobs overall increased 1.5% year-over-year, manufacturing jobs declined 1.3%.
  • May: There were 1.2% fewer manufacturing jobs than the year before, despite an increase of jobs overall of 1.5%.
  • April: Although jobs increased 1.4%, manufacturing jobs declined 1.1% year-over-year.
  • March: Employment increased 1.4%, dragged down by a .6% decline in manufacturing jobs.