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March Jobs Report Misses Expectations As Wages Lag Behind Inflation

AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File

The United States economy added a weaker than expected 431,000 jobs in March and the country's unemployment rate declined slightly to 3.6 percent according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday morning. Jobs gains were driven by the leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and manufacturing sectors of the economy, but the latest data shows that the economy is still struggling under President Biden's economic policies.

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Economists had expected the United States to add 490,000 jobs last month, and with March's miss, the economy is down 1.6 million jobs — one percent — from the economy's pre-pandemic level in February 2020. 

The March jobs report also showed that average hourly earnings were up 0.4 percent for the month, a 5.6 percent increase over the year — meaning Americans' real wages are still down more than two percent compared to last year due to inflation that's running hotter than it has in four decades.

That inflation is also a likely cause for the job gains reported in March as households or individuals who may not have previously needed to work found themselves unable to make ends meet without finding a job. 

The number of Americans not in the labor force who currently want a job also moved in the wrong direction in March, increasing by 380,000 to a total of 5.7 million Americans.

The number of pre-pandemic jobs still missing is especially problematic for the Biden administration as the White House continues to herald job growth as a result of Biden's "build back better" agenda, a claim contradicted by the fact that the economy has not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. Reinforcing that point, March's report showed that 2.5 million Americans were unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic. Not only has the Biden administration not managed to build back better, it hasn't even managed to build back yet. 

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