The economy added 215,000 jobs in March, continuing a period of steady growth, according to the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report. The numbers were a bit higher than anticipated: According to the Times, economists were expecting an increase of just over 200,000 for the month. Since the start of 2015, the economy has added an average of 200,000 jobs per month; over the past three months, job gains have averaged 209,000 a month. According to the report, unemployment rose to 5 percent from 4.9 percent in March.
The Times notes that while job growth has been steady, economists have also been focused on other factors in the monthly jobs report, such as hourly earnings and the percentage of Americans in the labor force. And in March, there was encouraging news on both fronts: Average hourly earnings rose 0.3 percent, higher than the 0.1 percent increase economists had been expecting, bringing the yearly gain to 2.3 percent.
The labor force participation numbers were up a bit as well — to 63 percent from 62.9 percent in February. Since September, when the rate hit its lowest point since the 1970s, labor force participation has risen 0.6 percent, though it’s still 3 percentage points below where it was when the recession began in 2007.