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Friday, April 7, 2017

Where The March Jobs Were: Plunging Retail Workers Offset By Doormen Hiring Surge

March was a month of giving back: after a very strong, if downward revised start to the year, with both January and February payrolls revised lower by a total of 38,000 jobs, March saw the worst job gains since May 2016, with only 98,000 jobs added. While many have claimed it was the weather's fault, the BLS reported that 164K people said they were unable to work in March due to poor weather conditions. This was just fractionally more than the 143K long-term average. 

This is where the job gains, and losses, were:

While most job sectors performed in line with recent trends, there were three major outliers: growth in the Education and Health jobs category tumbled from +66K to +16K; Construction jobs dropped from +59K to +6K, while the big detractor was Retail Trade, where for the second month in a row, 30K jobs were lost. Worse, employment in general merchandise stores declined by 35,000 in March and 
has declined by 89,000 since a recent high in October 2016, which confirms the recent speculation that "bricks and mortar" stores and malls in general may be the next big short.

A smaller, if perhaps more painful to Donald Trump, drop was experienced in the manufacturing sector, where last month's gain of 26K jobs was revised to just 11K.  According to SouthBay Research, the supply chain is still waiting for real demand, and now that the destocking/restocking wave over, factories are waiting for new demand to emerge. He notes that there will be no hiring without order momentum, which means that the manufacturing economy euphoria has indeed stalled and is now manifesting itself in poor job numbers.  This is how Southbay puts it:

Possible over-stocking creating additional drag: many companies bought into the Trump rhetoric and kicked-off production early in the quarter, only to slow again as that demand has yet to materialize

The one bright category was Professional and Business Services, where March saw an increase in monthly payrolls from 27.1K to 45.5K, however of this the biggest category was the odd "Services to buildings and dwellings", i.e. Doormen and Supers. 

Some other notables:

Mining added 11,000 jobs in March, with most of the gain occurring in support activities for mining (+9,000).  Mining employment has risen by 35,000 since reaching a recent low in October 2016.

Employment in financial activities continued to trend up in March (+9,000) and has increased by 178,000 over the  past 12 months.

Finally, everyone's favorite job category, waiters and bartenders, aka "Food services and drinking places" leisure workers, continued their relentless rise, adding another 21.7K jobs in March.

The complete breakdown of changes in key job categories in February and March is shown in the chart below.

Read More Here

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