US economy blows past expectations to add 303,000 jobs in March

The US economy blew past expectations and added 303,000 nonfarm jobs in March, marking the 39th straight month of job growth and coming as something as something of a victory for Joe Biden’s presidency.

The unemployment rate remained virtually unchanged at 3.8 per cent as healthcare, government and construction gained the largest amount of jobs.

The number exceeded expectations. ADP had predicted that the US economy added 184,000 jobs.

The report is a boon to President Biden, who hailed the report on Friday morning.

”Today’s report marks a milestone in America’s comeback,” he said in a statment. “Three years ago, I inherited an economy on the brink. With today’s report of 303,000 new jobs in March, we have passed the milestone of 15 million jobs created since I took office.”

As Mr Biden faces re-election, he hopes to point to an improved economy as an advantage against former president Donald Trump. Earlier this week, he hosted Senator Bernie Sanders, his 2020 Democratic presidential primary challenger, to tout lowered healthcare costs under the Inflation Reduction Act.

Mr Biden drew a contrast between his own economic policies and those of Republicans.

“I’m calling on large corporations to pass along their record profits to consumers,” he said. “And I’ll continue to stand against Congressional Republicans’ efforts to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and to enact massive tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations.”

But Mr Biden faces significant headwinds on public opinion when it comes to the economy despite the positive numbers. A Wall Street Journal poll of seven swing states showed that 54 per cent of voters in Georgia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and Nevada think that Mr Trump would be better at handling the economy.

The same survey showed that 31 per cent of swing state voters think the economy is “not so good” and 33 per cent think it is “poor”.

Mr Trump and Republicans have repeatedly asked voters if they were better off now than they were four years ago despite the fact that the economy went into freefall four years ago amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indeed, the latest jobs numbers show that the leisure and hospitality sector has grown by 49,000 jobs and has returned to its pre-pandemic levels. Healthcare, government and construction all saw job gains, with healthcare adding 72,000 jobs, government adding 71,000 jobs and construction adding 39,000.

On top of the positive job numbers, hourly earnings grew by 0.3 per cent at 12 cents per hour for March. Wages have grown at 4.1 per cent in the past 12 months. The number exceeded the annual inflation numbers. In March, the BLS reported that inflation rose by 3.2 in the past 12 months.

The latest Consumer Price Index report will be released in the middle of April, which will show how much prices rose for March and the past 12 months. The latest inflation numbers will likely determine whether the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates after repeatedly raising them in 2022.