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Job Growth Slows Sharply, But Unemployment Rate Dips

Filed by KOSU News in Business.
April 5, 2013

There were just 88,000 jobs added to private and public payrolls in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates.

But the nation’s jobless rate still edged down to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent. That dip wasn’t for a good reason, though: Nearly half a million fewer people were participating in the labor force. That smaller pool meant the jobless rate could tick down even as job growth was weak.

The news was not in line with expectations. As we reported earlier, economists were expecting to hear that payrolls had grown by 200,000 jobs and that the jobless rate had remained at February’s 7.7 percent.

We’ll have more from the report and reactions to it as morning continues. Be sure to hit your refresh button to see our latest updates.

Update at 8:55 a.m. ET. Bear In Mind, There Are Really Two Surveys.

This issue often comes up when BLS issues its report: The two headline numbers — the jobless rate and job growth — can seem to signal different things because they are based on separate surveys.

BLS derives the unemployment rate from a survey of households. Basically, it asks thousands of Americans a series of questions aimed at determining how many are and aren’t working.

In the other survey, it contacts public and private employers in an effort to determine how many jobs they have on their payrolls.

Update at 8:50 a.m. ET. Some Upward Revisions In Previous Months’ Job Growth:

Though the March payroll employment figure was surprisingly low, BLS also on Friday revised up its estimates of growth in January and February.

Initially, it reported that 119,000 jobs had been added to payrolls in January. Now, it says there were 148,000 jobs added that month.

And it had earlier reported that 236,000 jobs were added to payrolls in February. Now, it says there were 268,000 jobs added that month.

It is possible, of course, that a month from now BLS will say there were more than 88,000 jobs added in March.

Update at 8:45 a.m. ET. Decline In The Labor Force:

According to BLS, there were 496,000 fewer people counted as being part of the labor force last month. And, the “participation rate” declined to 63.3 percent from 63.5 percent.

So, despite the weak job growth picked up in the agency’s survey of employers, the jobless rate was nudged down to its lowest point since December 2008′s 7.3 percent. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

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