April 2, 2010 / 12:53 PM / 10 years ago

Instant view: March job growth strongest in 3 years

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. non-farm payrolls, a key measure of the economy’s health, rose in March for only the third time since recession struck in late 2007 as the private sector stepped up hiring at the fastest pace in almost three years.

KEY POINTS: * Employers added 162,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, leaving the unemployment rate steady at 9.7 percent for the third straight month. The payrolls increase was the largest since March 2007, and also reflected temporary hiring for the census. * Payroll figures for January were revised to show a 14,000 gain, while February was adjusted to show only a loss of 14,000. * Analysts polled by Reuters had expected non-farm payrolls to rise 190,000 last month and the unemployment rate to hold steady at 9.7 percent. The median projection from the 20 economists who have forecast payrolls most accurately over the past year predicted 200,000 jobs were created in March. * About 48,000 temporary workers for the decennial census were hired last month, while private payrolls jumped 123,000, the highest since May 2007.

COMMENTS:

TOM SOWANICK, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, THE OMNIVEST GROUP, PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY:

“New jobs plus 62,000 in positive revisions confirms the rise in long-term interest rates and GDP activity. This number is a real sign that companies are starting to hire.”

RICHARD DEKASER, PRESIDENT, WOODLEY PARK RESEARCH, WASHINGTON

“This is really no worse or better than the consensus figure once the historical revisions are accounted for.

“The private hiring increase of 123,000 is pretty good but you have to consider the weather distortion from February

.

“The report does show steady improvements in the labor market, but we are still not experiencing impressive gains.

“This is consistent with the Fed’s expectations of a gradually improving economy. This will not change their posture in anyway. This ratifies what they had been expecting the last several months.”

JACOB OUBINA, SENIOR CURRENCY STRATEGIST, FOREX.COM, BEDMINSTER, NEW JERSEY:

“It’s a positive jobs report overall. The main takeaway is that we had more than 120,000 additional private sector jobs and that’s a big deal because anything above 50,000 is good for the economy. Initially, the dollar fell because investors were reacting to the headline figure which was lower than expected. But after reading through the data, you could see people took the dollar up again. Overall this is positive for risk and we’re seeing dollar/yen gain as a result.”

TODD SCHOENBERGER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, LANDCOLT TRADING, SAN ANTONIO

“The real surprise is the low number of census and temp workers, slightly more than half of the 162,000 gain in March. Traders and investors will see this as a good sign once they digest the figures over the weekend because permanent hiring was much better than anticipated. Overall, we should be pleased by this figure and can expect equities to continue their ascent — at least in the short-term.”

MARKET REACTION: STOCKS: U.S. stock index futures rose slightly. BONDS: U.S. Treasury debt prices slipped DOLLAR: U.S. dollar was lower against the euro and yen

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