March Hiring Far Below Expectations, CNBC Guest Still Seeks 'Silver Lining'

Each month before the jobs report is released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hosts and guests of CNBC make predictions about the payroll employment number and unemployment rate.

On April 6, when the March data was released Steve Liesman was the high end predictor, with 290,000, and former Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee was low, with 180,000. But everyone turned out to be wrong, when the BLS report showed gains of only 120,000 jobs. The unemployment rate dropped from 8.3 percent to 8.2 percent.

“Hiring slowed dramatically in March, clouding optimism about the strength of the recovery,” according to CNNMoney.com. It was a “significant slowdown” from February’s 240,000 jobs. On CNBC, the guests discussed if the weather had led to early hiring and Senior Managing Director and Chief Economist for Mesirow Financial Diane Swonk suggested the strong gains in February and January had “borrowed from the future.”

Still, there was a hunt for silver linings by one CNBC guest. Economist Mark Zandi, who has worked with the Obama administration, even admitted that saying, “The other thing I want to point out, and you know, I’m trying to find some silver linings in the data. It’s obviously not positive, but one other silver lining is that you’ll notice that the job losses in state and local government is starting to moderate. And I think that’s a real trend. You know, there are more layoffs coming, but the worst of the layoffs are behind us. And that’s also going to be a significant positive going forward. That’s a big negative, that’s going to be less of a negative.”

Associated Press economics writer Paul Wiseman’s headline gave no indication of how disappointing the jobs report was, and made sure to note that, “Despite the pullback in March, the economy has added 858,000 jobs since December - the best four months of hiring in two years.

Another important thing to know about the report is that the labor force got even smaller. According to ZeroHedge, “the number of people not in the labor force is back to all time highs: 87,897,000.” They were citing the St. Louis Fed’s graph of people not in the labor force.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.