Last month’s employment report opened the way to optimism, but the March report swept it away. Job creations were very low, at 103,000, vs. an expected level of nearly 200,000, and new jobs in the first two months were revised down by 50,000 on average. Not only this, but wage increases are showing fewer and fewer signs of recovery. With the exception of finance, wage increases were down in most cases compared with last year or stationary at levels below the national average, which, as a result, is showing no sign of improvement. At 1.7% year-on-year in March, hourly wages in manufacturing increased at half their rate of mid-2016. The leisure and hotel sector, the nation’s third-largest employer segment with more than 10% of all positions, wages are now rising by less than 3% vs. 4.5% in the middle of last year. Although these results remain difficult to explain, they are certainly far removed from expectations, and neither the markets nor an administration tempted by protectionism can long ignore them.
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