Private sector employment surpassed its 2008 peak for the first time, but the 192,000 added jobs and flat unemployment rate of 6.7 were slightly below economists’ expectations. A Bloomberg survey prior to today’s news release from the labor department predicted a gain of 200,000 jobs and a slight dip in unemployment to 6.6 percent.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised last month’s report up from 175,000 to 197,000 jobs. ADP’s report exceeded expectations, showing gains of 191,000 jobs instead of the predicted 189,000. Employment grew in professional and business services (+57,000), healthcare (+19,000), mining and logging (+7,000), food services (+30,000), and construction (+19,000).
Employment in the government sector remained flat, as did as private industries like manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and financial activities.
Wages are down by 1 percent, but up 49 cents from last year, and projected by The PayScale Index to grow 0.8 percent during Q2 of 2014. Still, real wages — the price of labor relative to what it can by, given inflation — are down 7.7 percent since 2006 after briefly recovering 0.3 percent at the end of 2013.
Of course, the real question is whether today’s numbers represent a real turning point in the recovery. Some economists are more cautious than others. While Tom Simons, an economist with Jefferies & Co, tells CNNMoney that employers could soon be forced to start raising wages.
“We’ll be eclipsing the prior peak [for private sector jobs], and finally entering the expansion part of this recovery,” Simons said. “We think this is a very significant milestone.”
On the other hand, Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist with the Economic Policy Institute, tells CNNMoney that it’s a “psychological milestone.”
“I think it’s an economically meaningless benchmark,” she said. “We need so many more jobs to have the same job market conditions.”
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