Updated Apr 1, 2022 - Economy

Jobs, pay boom

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Chart: Axios Visuals

The post-pandemic job market boom continues. That's the takeaway from the March numbers, out this morning.

Why it matters: After a year of labor shortages and high inflation, Americans are going back to work in massive numbers. And they're getting paid more — though not enough to raise new inflation alarms.

At first glance, the 431,000 jobs added in March look like a deceleration from the job growth totals for January and February — a revised 504,000 and 750,000 jobs added, respectively.

  • But employers still added more jobs in March than all but one month of the decade-long expansion during the 2010s.
  • For all the concerns about worker shortages, employers are finding new workers somewhere, on a scale unmatched in decades.
  • The unemployment rate fell two-tenths to 3.6%, and is now only a tenth of a percent above the low achieved during the last expansion.

Trends in the labor force are exactly what you'd expect to see if the labor shortage issues were starting to abate.

  • The number of people in the labor force rose by 418,000. The share of adults who were employed rose to 60.1% — the highest since before the pandemic.
  • The share of people of prime working age — 25 to 54 — who are employed climbed particularly fast, rising half a percentage point to 80%.

Wages are rising, up 0.4% in March and up 5.6% over the last year.

  • The bad news: That's too slow to keep up with inflation.
  • The good news: It doesn’t suggest an inflationary upward spiral in wages and prices.

The bottom line: Two years ago, we had mass unemployment. Now, amid an exceptionally fast recovery, the job market looks increasingly healthy and normal.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details.

Go deeper