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The terrible March US jobs data

I am still on vacation here through Monday but the jobs number in the US was so ugly I had to comment briefly. The unemployment rate came in at 7.6% and 88,000 jobs were added to non-farm payrolls. The consensus estimates were for 7.7% unemployment and +192,000 jobs. So this is a bad report.

I haven’t parsed the data and probably won’t for some time so I am going to give you my view based on the headline numbers and given what I have written regarding the last two reports.

First, while net revisions of +61,000 added to the headline +88,000 number to get you to +149,000 on non-farm payrolls, this is still well short of consensus estimates. The key data point here was the labor participation rate as the 7.6% unemployment rate was apparently due to 500,000 dropping out of the labor force. The 63.6% labor participation rate is the lowest since 1979 in the US. And given the ugly Canada jobs data – loss of 54,500 jobs and a tick up of unemployment from 7.0% to 7.2% – it tells you that North America is not doing that well on the jobs front. Expect quantitative easing to continue and expect rates to remain near zero percent in the US. A rate cut could happen in Canada.

For Credit Writedowns Pro subscribers, after the jump are the key highlights on my thinking from the last two jobs reports in the US. I want to capture them here and say how this report changes the thinking, if at all.

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Edward Harrison is the founder of Credit Writedowns and a former career diplomat, investment banker and technology executive with over twenty years of business experience. He is also a regular economic and financial commentator on BBC World News, CNBC Television, Business News Network, CBC, Fox Television and RT Television. He speaks six languages and reads another five, skills he uses to provide a more global perspective. Edward holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College. Edward also writes a premium financial newsletter. Sign up here for a free trial.