Like a breath of spring air hinting at better days ahead, a government report recently showed the U.S. economy added 162,000 jobs in March, the most in three years. Though encouraging, the boost wasn’t enough to lower the unemployment rate. It remained stuck at 9.7% for a third straight month as job seekers surged back into the labor market, lured by signs of the country’s recovery.
Bart van Ark, chief economist at the Conference Board, a research group says, “It’s too early to say we have a sustainable recovery.” Analysts say the economy needs to add about 125,000 jobs a month just to keep pace with population growth. Many more than that will be needed to lower the jobless rate. Still, March was the first month of really solid growth in a long time. Job seekers can be a little bit more optimistic. We are beginning to turn the corner.
Although the report reflected the hiring of 48,000 temporary workers by the Census Bureau, the private sector generated 123,000 jobs, more than expected. Manufacturing payrolls grew for a third month in a row, adding 17,000 jobs, led by fabricated metal and machinery makers. Some factory owners say they hope to hire this spring but don’t want to expand too quickly.