The nation’s economy added just 88,000 new jobs in March while the jobless rate dipped to 7.6% from February’s 7.7%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
While the 88,000 jobs created reflect 36 straight months of positive job growth, during the previous 12 months job growth had averaged about 169,000 a month. The small number of new jobs also shows how important it is that Congress repeals the sequester to stop any additional job loss in the public and private sectors. These across-the-board cuts will cost more than 750,000 jobs this year alone and could derail the economic recovery.
The new jobless figures came at the same time it was revealed that President Obama plans to submit a budget next week that will include cuts to Social Security and Medicare. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says that action shows:
In Washington, we are still engaging in an upside-down debate. News that the president is planning to unveil a budget that cuts Social Security and Medicare benefits for working families is a sign of the wrong-headed policy driving our slow recovery. Millions of Americans remain out of work and the job market is especially devastating for young people. Young people ages 20-24 are facing 13.3% unemployment rates. Without the prospect of good jobs in their early and crucial earning years, these young people will bear the cost of these proposed cuts in Social Security.
Trumka reemphasized the AFL-CIO’s opposition to the proposed cuts:
We continue to reject chained CPI and means testing for Medicare as more “Washington speak” that disguises awful ideas that harm working families The President should drop these misguided cuts in benefits and focus instead on building support in Congress for investing in jobs.
The drop in the unemployment is attributed to some 500,000 people dropping out of the workforce last month.
Says Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP):
The only way to achieve a sustainable recovery and rebuild a robust economy benefiting all is to address the ongoing crisis of long-term unemployment. To do that, our leaders need to invest in meaningful job creation programs instead of wasting time with partisan infighting or worse yet, doing damage with misguided austerity policies and huge budget cuts. Putting people back to work remains Americans’ number one priority. It should be our leaders’ top priority, too.
The number of long-term unemployed (those who are jobless for 27 weeks or more) dropped slightly from 4.8 million to 4.56 million, or 39.6% of the unemployed.
The unemployment rate for whites (6.7%) declined slightly in March, as did the rates for adult African Americans (13.3%), young workers (13.3%), men (6.9%), teenagers (24.2%), Asian Americans (5%) and Latinos (9.2%). The rate for adult women remained the same (7.0%), African Americans (13.8%) and Latinos (9.6%).
The biggest job gains were in professional and business services (51,000), health care (23,000) and construction (18,000). But jobs declined in retail trade (24,000) and the U.S. Postal Service (12,000).
Employment in other major industries, including mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, state government and local government, showed little change over the month.