In a positive sign for U.S. markets, the economy added 215,000 jobs in March, slightly above expected numbers, renewing talk of interest rate hikes despite a slight uptick in unemployment.
Initially investors expected March to boost non-farm payroll by 242,000 jobs, but economists in a Reuters survey later revised expectations down to 205,000 new jobs. Economists expected unemployment to hold steady at 4.9 percent. The unemployment rate experienced its first month to month rise since May 2015, back to 5 percent, while the U-6 rate, which accounts for part-time and discouraged workers climbed to 9.8 percent, reports CNBC.
The positive date from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is also bringing discussions of interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve this year back into the conversation. Futures are pricing in a likely rate hike in September, however investors still do not see multiple hikes in 2016.
“As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race and that has been the story of jobs creation for many months now in the U.S.,” Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com’s senior economic analyst told CNBC. “On the positive side, the long economic recovery, dating back to the summer of 2009, still appears to be sustainable.”
Wages were also a key area of interest to investors, which showed steady gains in March. Average hourly earnings gained 7 percent in the month, a 2.7 percent increase from a year ago. Retail jobs posted the largest gains of any sector, adding 48,000 jobs, reports The Wall Street Journal.
While many are heralding the jobs reports as a strong sign of fundamental strength in the economy, others are airing on the side of caution. America’s view on the economy has swung from fears of a recession to hope multiple times this year, and some experts doubt this will impact the Federal Reserve’s long term outlook.
“It’s a very solid report, I’m just not sure it’s going to mean all that much to the market today,” Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisers told CNBC. “The report itself was very good.”
The Labor Force Participation Rate, often the subject of controversy after its steep decline following the Great Recession, also climbed, reaching 63 percent. Economists are hopeful this slight rise signals a more active labor market for the future.
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