Friday, the Labor Department reported the economy added 244,000 jobs in March.
After adding 235,000 and 221,000 jobs in February and March, this should indicate the economy is finally accomplishing momentum; however, rising gas prices and sluggish consumer demand clouds the outlook. A surge in April first time jobless claims indicate growth is stuck at depressed, first-quarter levels, and some businesses are growing more reluctant to hire.
The unemployment rate rose to 9 percent, as the Labor Departments estimate of the working age population and labor force increased by some 146,000 and 15,000, respectively. Immigration may have played some role—warmer weather does encourage more border crossings to access work in the construction trade and agriculture.
Gains from February through April, were in sharp contrast to weaker jobs creation the previous 13 months, and largely resulted from stronger private sector jobs growth.
The economy began adding jobs January 2010, but gained only 78,000 jobs a month through January 2011. Too many of those jobs were created by stimulus spending, temporary business services, and health care and social services, which are heavily subsidized by government reimbursements. Job gains in the core private sector—private employment less temporary business services, and health care social services and temporary business services--averaged only 49,000 a month.