Article by Brown Harris Stevens
Gregory Heym is Chief Economist at Brown Harris Stevens. His weekly series, The Line, covers new developments to the economy, including trends and forecasts. Read on for the latest report and subscribe here to receive The Line in your inbox.
Today, out of respect for the Passover and Easter holidays, we present our shortest Line ever.
Employment Rose 236,000 in March
Here are the takeaways:
- The 236,000 jobs added last month were just under the 238,000 Dow Jones estimate.
- The unemployment rate fell to 3.5%.
- Wages rose by 4.2% over the past year, the lowest annual increase since June 2021.
- The labor-force participation rate rose to 62.6%, its highest level since the pandemic.
The Fed’s rate hikes over the past year are finally slowing down the labor market, and that’s good news. Further signs of a softening labor market we saw this week included:
- The number of job openings fell below 10 million for the first time since May 2021.
- The DOL made its annual adjustments to its weekly jobless claims data, which shows layoffs since the start of 2023 were higher than initially reported.
It’s too early to tell if this data will change the Fed’s plan for one more hike in May, but with very negative reports on both the manufacturing and service sectors this week, it’s certainly a possibility.
Mortgage Rates Fall for the Fourth Straight Week
We close today with good news on mortgage rates, which fell for the fourth week in a row. Over the past month, the average 30-year conforming rate has fallen almost half a percent—very good news for the housing market.