The March job figures were just released by the Department of Labor, and the news is unambiguously good. The payroll figures show that 162,000 jobs were added on a seasonally adjusted basis in March. The gains were broad-based, with every major industrial sector adding jobs except information and financial services. The increases also come on top of upwardly revised employment figures for January and February.
There was some expectation that hiring for the Census might be a major jobs driver this month, but this does not appear to be the case. Of the 162,000 jobs that were added, 123,000 were private sector jobs. Government employment was up, but gains in federal government jobs were partly offset by losses in state and local government jobs.
The unemployment rate held steady at 9.7 percent; however, this mainly reflected an increase in the number of people who were in the labor force. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the proportion of people who were employed rose as did the proportion of people in the labor force (those who identify themselves as working or looking for work).
Overall, the employment figures appear to be on the right track. However, it will take many years of these types of gains to recover all the jobs that were lost during the Great Recession.