US employers kept up a solid pace of hiring for a second straight month in March as companies shook off the winter blues.
The number of new jobs created last month was at 192,000, slightly below economists’ expectations for 200,000, but they were not too disappointed.
“They’re good. You’re quibbling over a pretty small differential. It looks like the party goes on,” said Rick Meckler, president of Liberty View Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
January and February’s payrolls count was revised upwards by a total of 37,000.
The numbers are further evidence that the US economy is shifting into higher gear after being held back by a brutally cold winter.
Data ranging from manufacturing and services sector activity to car sales have also signaled strength in the economy as the first quarter ended.
The private sector has now regained all the jobs lost during the recent recession.
The March unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent of the workforce, with more people looking for work as shown by a rise in the labour force participation rate.
That is the proportion of working-age Americans who either have a job or are looking for one.
It reached a six-month high of 63.2 percent in March from 63 percent in February.
The steady pace of job gains should allow the Federal Reserve to continue scaling back its monetary stimulus.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said the central bank can do that – while keeping borrowing costs extremely low for some time – to let the labour market rebuild.
The jobs report will likely encourage the Fed to continue reducing, or tapering, its massive monetary stimulus, according to Anthony Valeri, investment strategist at LPL Financial in San Diego.
“It’s a Goldilocks report, not too warm and not too cold, and puts pressure on the next report in May to be good,” Valeri said. “It doesn’t change the pace of tapering and shows the economy is still on track.”
Wall Street rose initially after the jobs data was released, but the effect didn’t last.