Employers in the U.S. boosted payrolls in March by 192,000 as the unemployment rate held at 6.7 percent. The median forecast of economists projected a 200,000 gain in jobs. Private employment rose above the pre-recession peak for the first time. Employment through January and February were revised upward indicating the winter weather had less of an impact as previously thought. These revisions added 37,000 jobs to payrolls over the prior two months and an increase in hours worked in March from February.
Total private payrolls reached 116.1 million in March, outpacing the pre-recession peak. The U.S. has recovered all but 437,000 of the 8.7 million jobs, including at government agencies that were lost due to the recession. Factories reduced payrolls by 1,000 after adding 19,000 in February as construction companies increased employment by 19,000 workers and retail grew by 21,300 jobs. The number of temporary workers rose by 28,500.
Automakers are expected to increase headcounts as cars and trucks sold at their strongest rate since May 2007. Services industries, which account for nearly 90 percent of the economy, improved as more companies intend to increase their payroll. The Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index rose to 53.1 in March from a four-year low of 51.6 in February. Readings of at least 50 signal an expansion.