The red-hot American job market might be just a couple of degrees cooler than previously believed.
There were 306,000 fewer nonagricultural jobs in the United States in March than initially reported, according to revised data released by the Labor Department on Wednesday. That suggests employers added jobs at a slightly slower rate in 2022 and early 2023 than more timely — but less accurate — monthly data suggested.
The revisions, which are preliminary, don’t change the big picture: Job growth has slowed since the initial wave of post-lockdown reopening, but has remained surprisingly resilient. Even after the latest revision, there were 2.8 million more jobs in March than before the pandemic began. (Employers have added another 870,000 jobs since then, according to the Labor Department, although those figures too will eventually be subject to revision.)
The data released Wednesday is part of an annual process in which monthly estimates, which are based on a survey of employers, are brought into alignment with more definitive data from state unemployment insurance records. The revisions will be formally incorporated into government figures early next year.
The recent strength of the job market has surprised economists, who expected the rapid increase in interest rates to lead to a more significant slowdown in hiring. Some forecasters thought that the monthly jobs figures were overstating hiring, and that the annual update would show a substantial downward revision.
That didn’t happen: The Labor Department lowered its estimate of employment by just 0.2 percent, which is in line with historical revisions.
The revisions were larger for certain industries. Employment in transportation and warehousing, which boomed during the pandemic but has since slowed, was revised down by nearly 150,000 jobs, or 2.2 percent. White-collar industries like information and professional services also added fewer jobs than initially reported. Retail and wholesale companies, on the other hand, hired more workers than monthly figures suggested, as did employers in the public sector.
POST AUTHOR: Ben Casselman