The sky isn't falling for the job market

The March jobs report was slightly disappointing, but it shouldn't set off alarm bells about the economy.Yes, ...

Posted: Apr 6, 2018 7:51 PM
Updated: Apr 6, 2018 7:51 PM

The March jobs report was slightly disappointing, but it shouldn't set off alarm bells about the economy.

Yes, only 103,000 jobs were added last month - fewer than expected. But this follows a month when employers added more than 300,000 jobs. A pullback shouldn't be that much of a surprise.

And even though some scoff when economists cite weather as an excuse for poor numbers, it does seem like the cold snap that took place in March had a legitimate impact on the labor market - particularly the construction sector, which lost 15,000 jobs.

It's hard to build things when it's freezing and snowing outside. "We've had crummy weather. Give spring a chance," said Steve Chiavarone, a portfolio manager with Federated Investors.

Related: US job growth slowed in March

The unemployment rate also remains at 4.1%, a 17-year low. Wages crept slightly higher, too, up 2.7% over the past 12 months.

That's good news for workers. And the increase isn't enough to spark major inflation fears for the Federal Reserve or financial markets either. Consumer prices are only up about 2.2% over the past year.

"The jobs numbers are fine. Inflation and interest rates are going higher but at a slow, grinding pace. It's steady as she goes," Chiavarone said.

After revisions to the jobs reports for the past two months, the average payroll gains totaled a solid 202,000 a month for the first quarter. And the latest weekly jobless claims figures remain near a 45-year low, a sign that companies are holding on to workers instead of laying them off.

Add it all up and the jobs market still looks pretty healthy.

"This is not a sign of the derailment of the strong jobs market," said Tony Bedikian, head of global markets with Citizens Bank.

"We still had a slight bump up in hourly earnings, but it shouldn't change the Fed's trajectory," he added. "Wage growth was not too hot and not too cold. It's not alarming."

But what's next? Should people be concerned about the escalating trade tensions between the United States and China? Will employers start to cut back on hiring as a result?

That's less certain. The manufacturing sector, which President Trump loves to focus on as a barometer of the economy, could be hit hard by tariffs, and even harder if there's a full-blown trade war.

Related: Trump threatens China with new $100 billion tariff plan

And that would be particularly bad news because manufacturing is one of the brightest spots of the job market right now. Manufacturers added 22,000 jobs in March alone and 232,000 jobs over the past year.

But Wasif Latif, head of global multi-assets at USAA, isn't worried that manufacturers - or other businesses, for that matter - will start to slow their hiring because of the trade rhetoric.

"This is still mostly talk. If additional tariffs actually get implemented, you could see some jobs lost," Latif said before quickly adding that there are still many unknowns about what tariffs will do to the US economy.

"There is going to be a long gestation period and the impact needs to work its way through," Latif said. "We need to see how consumers react and what happens to demand."

Latif added that many businesses are still optimistic because of lower corporate tax rates. And those tax cuts, which were just talk last year, are now a real thing that companies can count on and build into their budgets. A trade war? Not yet.

"Businesses need certainty to make hiring decisions," Latif said. "Companies may hesitate to make some new investments because of trade fears but CEO confidence is still very high due to the tax cuts."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 259117

Reported Deaths: 5668
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17436187
Hinds16524328
Harrison13876199
Rankin11000217
Jackson10652187
Lee8981141
Madison8413168
Jones6552112
Forrest6101121
Lauderdale6034189
Lowndes5463119
Lafayette507393
Lamar496465
Washington4877124
Bolivar4068109
Oktibbeha401681
Panola378380
Pontotoc372155
Monroe3628105
Warren3619101
Union350563
Marshall349569
Neshoba3433152
Pearl River3380104
Leflore3079108
Lincoln300687
Sunflower289272
Hancock285360
Tate276762
Alcorn268854
Pike266580
Itawamba266261
Scott253448
Yazoo250156
Prentiss249552
Tippah245850
Copiah244549
Coahoma243654
Simpson240069
Leake234367
Grenada221171
Marion218473
Covington216972
Adams210170
Wayne206432
Winston205267
George202739
Attala195761
Newton195745
Tishomingo192461
Chickasaw186144
Jasper176038
Holmes169868
Clay162735
Tallahatchie154935
Stone148424
Clarke143562
Calhoun138021
Smith125825
Yalobusha120234
Walthall113437
Greene112129
Noxubee111425
Montgomery110936
Carroll105922
Lawrence104317
Perry103231
Amite99926
Webster94324
Tunica87621
Jefferson Davis87327
Claiborne86825
Benton84023
Humphreys83624
Kemper79120
Quitman7029
Franklin68716
Choctaw62313
Wilkinson58825
Jefferson55920
Sharkey44217
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 432536

Reported Deaths: 6379
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63523957
Mobile30967562
Madison27627201
Tuscaloosa21122268
Montgomery19495326
Shelby18941126
Baldwin16798188
Lee12901102
Morgan12447129
Etowah11911178
Calhoun11365205
Marshall10322119
Houston8813156
Limestone823176
Cullman8159106
Elmore8056104
DeKalb7796102
Lauderdale773399
St. Clair7705122
Talladega6347109
Walker5993174
Jackson590341
Colbert543274
Blount541186
Autauga527061
Coffee454160
Dale405482
Franklin371948
Russell345712
Chilton340972
Covington334168
Escambia328344
Dallas310196
Chambers297370
Clarke290536
Tallapoosa2665107
Pike258830
Marion250155
Lawrence249150
Winston231442
Bibb219848
Geneva206946
Marengo205229
Pickens198631
Hale180842
Barbour177836
Fayette174528
Butler171358
Cherokee162530
Henry157523
Monroe150718
Randolph143236
Washington139527
Clay128546
Crenshaw121644
Cleburne119724
Lamar119621
Macon119637
Lowndes112536
Wilcox105822
Bullock101428
Perry99118
Conecuh96320
Sumter89726
Greene76723
Coosa62215
Choctaw51624
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 58°
Columbus
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 54°
Oxford
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 55°
Starkville
Mostly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather