What Brookings Scholars Are Saying about the Job Numbers

The U.S. economy added 192,000 jobs in March, while the unemployment rate remained steady at 6.7 percent, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Senior Fellow Gary Burtless noted the good news in the report. “For the first time since December 2007,” he writes, “private U.S. payrolls reached a new all-time peak.” Despite this and some other good news, Burtless points out that:

public plus private payrolls remain more than 400,000 below their pre-recession peak. That’s because government payrolls sank. In the 49 months that private-sector employment increased, public payrolls fell 627,000, or about 2.8%. Government employment remained unchanged in March, and public payrolls edged down 19,000 over the past year. A shrinking public sector is one of the headwinds slowing the job market recovery. Fortunately, this headwind seems to be weakening.

Using an alternative seasonal adjustment model published in the Brookings Papers on Economic Policy, Jonathan Wright of Johns Hopkins University calculates different monthly numbers, shown here, including 189,000 jobs in March.

The Hamilton Project continues to estimate the U.S. “jobs gap”—the number of jobs that the U.S. economy has to create to return to pre-recession employment levels while absorbing the people who enter the labor force each month.

This number stands at 7.4 million jobs at the end of March 2014. According to the Hamilton Project, “If the economy adds about 208,000 jobs per month, which was the average monthly rate for the best year of job creation in the 2000s, then it will take until September 2018 to close the jobs gap.”

Visit the updated Metro Monitor to see how the top 100 U.S. metro areas have fared in a range of economic indicators, including job changes from before the recession through the fourth quarter of 2013.

Here is some of what Brookings experts are saying on Twitter:

Visit the jobs blog for past commentary on the monthly job numbers.