Every month the jobs numbers are of major interest to analysts who are looking for direction with regard to the economy. In essence, there is no up-to-date economic statistic which is more important, as job growth is the spark which can spur on economic growth, as well as inflationary concerns. In addition, there are certain employment reports that seem to attract even more interest because of other events occurring before, or as the data are being released.
March’s jobs numbers were no exception in this regard. This month, the numbers took on more importance because of these additional circumstances. For one, the report followed a pretty strong jobs report released last month. Two strong months of jobs growth could have provided a signal to the Federal Reserve Board, whose members will be considering when to raise rates again. To make the timing more interesting, the minutes from the last Fed meeting were released two days before the jobs report. These minutes give us a feel as to how the Fed is likely to react to the numbers, not only with regard to increasing rates, but also regarding paring off their portfolio of bonds and mortgages.
The report was also released after the stock market rally hit a pause in the second half of March, which enabled long-term interest rates to ease back down. A strong report had the potential to refuel the stock market rise and higher rates quite quickly. Thus, when the numbers were released on Friday, the increase of less than 100,000 jobs and the downward revision in the previous months’ gains, as well as stable wage growth, all seemed to have signaled that the economy is not running too hot — despite the drop in the unemployment rate. Weather factors may have affected the extreme variations from month-to-month and, thus, one should not be coming to any conclusions regarding one month of weak employment growth. Additionally, it will be hard to measure the immediate reaction to the news with the escalation of the Syrian conflict going on at the same time as the report was issued.