The United States’ jobs report for March 2023 came below analysts’ expectations as only 236,000 jobs were added as of the end of the first quarter of the year. This is seen as a sign that the labor scene is cooling down in the face of the US Federal Reserve’s slew of interest rate hikes which has now gone on for a year.

Experts previously forecast a total of 239,000 new employment opportunities for March and pegged the unemployment rate to around 3.6%. The actual unemployment rate as of March 31st stands at 3.5%.

The March report is the first to come below expectations in twelve months.

Strong But Slowing Down

For Glassdoor lead economist Daniel Zhao, the US labor market came roaring into March. However, given the crisis that led to the fall of California’s Silicon Valley Bank and the subsequent layoffs that went with it, it ended the month with a whimper. 

March’s 236,000 jobs is the smallest monthly gain seen in the US labor market since it first declined in December 2020. Likewise, job losses during the pandemic notwithstanding, it is also the smallest monthly jobs gain since December 2019.

The total number of new jobs for March is significantly lower than the figures for January which closed with 472,000 and February which ended with 326,000.

While March’s figures are relatively small, US President Joe Biden lauded the latest employment report, referring to it as good news for the country’s hard-working citizens.

Which Industries Showed Growth?

Analysts noted that there were a number of industries whose working numbers were adversely impacted by the pandemic that is now bouncing back.

According to Manpower Group senior vice-president Jim McCoy, people-centric industries faced a substantial decrease in employees over the past two years. Now, businesses in fields like hospitality, leisure, and even health care are hiring again and making up for what they lost. Aside from the aforementioned sectors, government service also showed significant gains when it came to employment. 

However, recovery remains slow at this point in time; jobs at hotels and other leisure establishments have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. As of March 31st, employment in the industry was pegged at around 368,000 jobs (2.2%) less than the total seen back in February 2020.

On the other hand, fields that reported losses in terms of employment in March of this year include retail, manufacturing, construction, and information services.