Weekly Economic Review: Job Growth Softened Significantly in March

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/7/17 9:00 AM

Topics: Economy

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates fell back for the third week in a row, consumer spending continued to pick up and March’s employment report disappointed.

Weekly Economic Review 3-3-2.pngiStockPhoto/xijian

Job Growth

ADP’s Employment Report for March, released on Wednesday, didn’t paint as pretty of a picture as January and February but still called for Friday’s Employment Situation to be strong with an estimated 263,000 growth in private payrolls.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index, though, rose 2 points in March to a level of plus 37, making it the third month in a row the index has hit a new record high. While the percentage of employees who said their employer was hiring increased (46 percent), the percentage of workers who said their employer was letting people go (9 percent) remained stagnant.

Despite ADP’s sound estimate of growth, March’s Employment Situation, released Friday, came in way weaker than expected – with attribution to inclement weather on the Northeast coast. The month’s 98,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls is the weakest reading since May 2016. Average hourly earnings gained only 0.2 percent in March, bringing the year-over-year appreciation rate to only 2.7 percent.

A highlight of Friday’s report was the unemployment rate, which fell two-tenths to 4.5 percent, the lowest unemployment rate since April 2007.

Consumer Spending

American’s daily self-reports of spending averaged $100 for March. While little changed from February’s report of $101, this is the highest spending estimate for the month of March seen since Gallup started tracking in 2008.

This week in the economy:

  • The 30-year fixed-rate fell back again as of April 6th with the average standing at 4.10 percent with 0.5 points, according to Freddie Mac.
  • Purchase applications rose a seasonally adjusted 1 percent the week of March 31, but refinance applications decreased 4 percent, according to MBA Mortgage Applications. The refinance share of mortgage activity is down to its lowest level since October 2008.
  • Initial jobless claims fell a sharp 25,000 in the initial report for the week of April 1, according to Bloomberg. The 4-week average fell 4,500 to 250,000, which is still 10,000 above the month-ago trend.
  • After dropping 1.6 points the week prior, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index regained 0.5 points and stood at a level of 50.2 for the week of April 2nd.

The economic calendar for the week of April 9th, 2017:

  • Monday – Labor Market Conditions
  • Tuesday – JOLTS
  • Wednesday – MBA Mortgage Applications
  • Thursday – Jobless Claims, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, Consumer Sentiment
  • Friday – Consumer Price Index, Retail Sales

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