NEW YORK — Lots of jobs, but little wage growth.
That’s been the narrative of America’s job market for years and it bore true again on Friday.
The U.S. economy added 215,000 jobs in March, a healthy gain. Economists surveyed by CNNMoney had predicted there would be 199,000 new jobs.
But wages grew a mere 2.3% compared to a year ago. It’s especially disappointing because the economy has added millions of jobs in the last two years. When job growth increases, wages tend to follow with it. Wage growth had started to pick up last fall, only to lose its momentum in February and March.
The unemployment rate ticked up to 5% from 4.9%. Sometimes unemployment going up means more people are coming back to the job market, which is a good sign.
More Americans are felling confident about finding a job and they’ve started looking. The participation rate ticked up a bit in March and it’s been inching up since September. Participation has fallen since 2000 for a range of reasons, such as Baby Boomers retiring and workers feeling discouraged after the Great Recession.
Many experts believe job growth will slow at some point this year. Unemployment typically does not go much further south. In fact, 5% is a rate that is considered by many to mean that the economy is at full employment.
But March’s gains show this jobs rally still has room to run.