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.