(MUNCIE) – The latest jobs report from the federal government indicates the U.S. economy is cooling off, says Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State University.
The March jobs report found 196,000 were created last month followed the truly dismal numbers from the February report (22,000 net new jobs). The report shows that employment creation is down from the last three months of 2018 when monthly job growth averaged 233,000.
The unemployment rate was unchanged in March at 3.8 percent.
“Labor markets are a lagging economic indicator, and today’s report suggests the economy is cooling and will continue to cool,” said Hicks, director of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research. “It does not suggest we have entered a recession.”
“This figure was within the range most models predicted and is consistent with a slowing expanding labor market,” he said. “However, job creation in the first quarter is 25 percent beneath the rate over the same period last year. ”
“The composition of jobs was not encouraging,” Hicks noted, pointing out that construction employment was modest, and should have been much higher following the lack of new construction jobs in the previous month.
He said the factory employment declined in March, with the losses concentrated in the auto and transportation equipment sectors. Gains were in business services and healthcare, the former likely temporary employment.
The bright spot was wages which grew at 3.2 percent over inflation suggesting labor markets remain tight, Hicks said.