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US job market remains strong, wages outpacing inflation, data shows

The new job figures show wages are outpacing inflation, but many Americans believe the economy is not in good shape.
US job market remains strong, wages outpacing inflation, data shows
Posted at 9:16 AM, Apr 05, 2024

The U.S. labor market continued its consistent growth in March as 303,000 jobs were added, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

The unemployment rate fell from 3.9% in February to 3.8% in March, marking 26 consecutive months it's been below 4%, the longest such period of low unemployment in more than five decades. 

The largest job gains in March were in the health care sector, with the addition of 72,000 jobs. There were also 71,000 new government jobs in March, the majority in the education sector. 

The hospitality industry is back above pre-pandemic levels as it added 49,000 jobs. 

Average hourly earnings went up 12 cents between February and March, and average weekly earnings increased by over $7 per worker between months. The average weekly wage for U.S. workers is $1,193.34, up from $1,185.75.

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Average weekly earnings have increased by 4.1% in the last year. The consumer price index was 3.2% for the 12-month period ending in February, indicating wages are outpacing inflation. 

While employment figures remain very strong, not all Americans say they are reaping the benefits. 

The U.S. Federal Reserve noted that credit card debt increased by $113 billion by Americans in 2023. Americans now hold a record $1.13 trillion in credit card debt, the agency said. 

According to Gallup, 30% of Americans would rate the economy as good or excellent, while 39% would consider it poor. In early 2022, 72% of Americans said it was a good time to find a quality job. That percentage dropped to 55% in January 2024.

The White House celebrated the news as it tries to paint the picture of a strong economy heading into the 2024 election. 

"Three years ago, I inherited an economy on the brink. With today’s report of 303,000 new jobs in March, we have passed the milestone of 15 million jobs created since I took office. That’s 15 million more people who have the dignity and respect that comes with a paycheck," President Joe Biden said in a statement.

The Trump campaign, however, noted that the number of Americans working multiple jobs has increased steadily during Biden's presidency. 

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