The labor market added 236,000 jobs in March – the lowest level since 2020 – as economists worry the recession may be “in the works now”.

City says 7,000 summer jobs are available for Boston youth ages 14 to 18

top line

As waves of layoffs rippled through a long-buoyant labor market, the Labor Department’s jobs report on Friday showed a continued slowdown in hiring — adding to a slew of signs this week that the economy may be declining more quickly than expected, which could lead to a slowdown in hiring. to take great risks. Fed officials have long tried to avoid this.

key facts

Total employment rose by 236,000 in March — in line with economists’ expectations and marking the lowest monthly gain since December 2020, according to the data. released Friday by the Department of Labor.

Despite mounting reports of company layoffs hitting the nation’s largest employers, the unemployment rate fell to 3.5% after rising unexpectedly to 3.6% in February from a 54-year low of 3.4% in January.

The report comes after the Labor Department on Thursday made revisions to its latest data on unemployment claims, indicating that Americans filed an additional 142,000 unemployment claims for the first time over the past three weeks — up 24% from previously reported levels.

The revisions fueled recession fears that intensified this week, with “every major data point” — including unemployment claims, manufacturing activity and construction spending — pointing to a slowing economy and leading some experts to worry it could slow too quickly, says Sevens, the report’s founder. Tom Esay.

“A recession is probably underway right now,” Bank of Comerica chief economist Bill Adams said in a morning note, noting that updated Labor Department data mean the uptick in continuing jobless claims over the past six months approaches increases in recessions dating back to the seventies.

main background

Amid waves of layoffs hitting some of the nation’s largest tech employers, the unemployment rate unexpectedly rose in February despite the job market adding many more jobs than expected. Over the past month, the layoffs have spilled over into other industries, with retail giant Wal-Mart and fast-food chain McDonald’s cutting hundreds of jobs. On Thursday, outsourcing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that employers have cut nearly 270,400 jobs so far this year — a jump of 396% over the same period in 2024.

Crucial quote

“The rising trend in claims was a key missing part of the labor market story, but it’s now clear that layoffs are increasing,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macro, said in a note Thursday. “This data alone will not prevent the Fed from raising interest rates again in May, but it is a warning sign that should not be ignored.”

Further reading

‘The economy is not doing well’: Job growth slows unexpectedly as employers cut wages (Forbes)

Job cuts have risen nearly 400% this year as jobless claims have risen (Forbes)

2023 Layoff Tracker: Wal-Mart cuts 2,000 workers (Forbes)

Follow me Twitter or linkedin. Send me a safe tip.