Listening to NPR this morning, I got my first inkling about the contents of the latest Employment Situation Summary from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s the gist: 120,000 new jobs added — about half of recent monthly upticks — and employment drops from 8.3 to 8.2 percent. There were also modest gains in many employment sectors, wtih manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, healthcare, and professional and businesses accounting for the vast majority of March gains, surprisingly evenly distributed across those areas (only healthcare had an increase in the 20,000s,; all the others fell between 31-37,000). Financial services also had a slight increase (15,000) but retail suffered a drop of 34,000 jobs.
And what about IT? Even though the numbers of unemployed dropped from March 2011 to March 2012 (from 236,000 to 232,000) dropping employment overall in the sector did the opposite for the unemployment rate in this area. Over the same period, it went up from 7.6 percent (March 2011) to 8.0 percent (March 2012).
What does all this have to tell us? It’s clear that things continue to improve slowly but also slightly, one baby step at a time. But we’re definitely not out of danger yet, and it’s certainly not time to break out the hats and hooters any time soon. The mantra continues “Hunker down. Stay put. Keep waiting for more tangible signs of improvement.” We’re getting good at waiting, but I’m hoping for some kind of pleasant surprise sooner, rather than later. We’ll see!