US economy adds 192,000 jobs in March

Out-of-work Americans tend to blame themselves for their predicament

The US added 192,000 new jobs in March, in line with expectations, as the unemployment rate held steady at 6.7%.

Severe weather over the winter did not prevent the monthly average for new jobs from continuing a climb towards pre-economic crisis levels.

Employment grew in health care, and professional and business services, and in mining and logging.

The US Federal Reserve has been watching employment rates as an indicator of economic health.

The central bank has been using such indicators to judge whether a cutting back on stimulus for the US economy is desirable.

The March jobs figures were broadly in line with economists' expectations of 200,000 new posts per month for 2014, while the number of people who were unemployed remained at 10.5 million.

It's a pretty upbeat monthly report.

The new jobs all reflect decisions by private employers to hire people. Public sector employment was unchanged. A job creation number not far shy of 200,000 is fairly robust.

Unemployment did not decline, it's true. But that reflects more people looking for work - those who aren't looking aren't included in the unemployment figures. They are classified as not in the labour force and that number fell quite sharply.

Still, this is not yet a labour market that is firing on all cylinders. Many people who do have jobs would prefer to work longer hours. And the percentage of the working age population in work - 58.9% - is still well below where it was before the financial crisis. The high point was 63.4% at the end of 2006.

So it looks like a case of solid, but incomplete progress.

"This employment report should help put to rest fears that the economy was stalling as we entered the new year," tweeted Justin Wolfers, an economics professor at the University of Michigan.

In March business services added 57,000 jobs, with 29,000 of those roles being in the temporary help industry.

Computer systems design and related jobs, which fall under business services, added 6,000 posts.

Healthcare gained 19,000 new jobs, and ambulatory healthcare, which includes outpatient care, rose by 20,000. Nursing care lost 5,000 jobs over the period.

Mining and logging rose by 7,000 jobs, against an average growth of 3,000 roles per month over the previous year.

On Friday jobs figures for February were revised up from an estimate of 175,000 to 197,000 new jobs.

The estimate for January was also revised up, from 129,000 to 144,000.

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