US employment and wages pick up

NEW YORK • Employment in the United States climbed and wages picked up in March, signs of labour- market durability in the face of lethargic global growth.

The 215,000 gain in payrolls followed a revised 245,000 February advance, a Labour Department report showed yesterday. Average hourly earnings increased 0.3 per cent from a month earlier, while the jobless rate was 5 per cent as more people entered the labour force.

A still-robust pace of job creation represents a vote of confidence by employers that the US will hold up against an anaemic global economic backdrop. Additional tightening in the labour market that sparks bigger pay gains for American workers may convince Federal Reserve policymakers that the economy is more insulated to weakness overseas.

"We're still in a really good spot with the labour market - the fundamentals here are strong," Mr Thomas Simons, a money market economist at Jefferies LLC in New York, said before the report.

Construction payroll growth accelerated in March, while manufacturing employment slumped. Other industries adding jobs included retail, healthcare, leisure and hospitality and professional services. Government hiring was the strongest since August.

The unemployment rate, which is derived from a separate Labour Department survey of households, picked up last month from 4.9 per cent in February. Some people entering the labour force were only able to find part-time employment. There was a 135,000 increase in those working part-time but desiring a full work week.

The 6.12 million Americans working part-time for economic reasons was the highest since August. That pushed up the broadest measure of unemployment, which also includes discouraged workers, to 9.8 per cent from 9.7 per cent.

The labour force participation rate rose to 63 per cent, the highest since March 2014. The average work week for all workers was unchanged at 34.4 hours last month.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline 'US employment and wages pick up'. Print Edition | Subscribe