March jobs report: U.S. economy adds 192,000 jobs

The U.S. economy added 192,000 jobs in March, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Labor, and the official unemployment rate remained at 6.7%.

The report offered more proof that the U.S. economy is ticking up after suffering the doldrums of a severe winter.

Economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a gain of 200,000 new nonfarm jobs in March, up from the 175,000 reported in February.

Meanwhile, the private ADP survey said private employers added 191,000 jobs to their payrolls in March and revised upward its February data to 153,000 new jobs, from 139,000.

The Department of Labor’s preliminary report also updated January and February jobs data, indicating that 37,000 more jobs — 22,000 more in February and 15,000 more in January — were created in those months than originally reported.

As a benchmark, economists say the economy must create at least 150,000 new jobs each month just to keep up with changes in population and the labor market, and it must create about 250,000 to quickly bring down the unemployment rate.

The government’s “U-6” rate, a broader measure of unemployment that includes part-time workers who want full-time employment, rose slightly to 12.7% as the number of people in that category grew by 225,000 in March. It had dropped from 12.7% in January to 12.6% in February.

The labor force participation rate also rose slightly to 63.2%.

Other recent economic metrics:

  • Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers Index: 53.1, up from 51.6 in February.
  • Fourth quarter 2013 GDP: +2.6%, revised upward from +2.4%.
  • Filings for initial unemployment claims: 326,000 for the week ending March 29, up 10,000 over the previous week.