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KAI RYSSDAL: 162,000 is the magic number. That’s how many jobs the economy added from the beginning of March to the end. The biggest monthly gain in three years. It’s even good that the unemployment rate stayed where it was, 9.7 percent. That means more people got into the labor market in hopes of finding a job.
Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall Genzer has more on today’s report and whether we can keep it up.
Nancy Marshall Genzer: Right off the bat, I have to tell you that about half the jobs the private sector created last month were temporary. But hey, a job’s a job, right?
Nigel Gault is chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight.
Nigel Fault: I’d probably be in the glass half full rather than half empty camp. The positive news out of this report is that it does signal clearly that we have turned the corner to job creation.
There were job gains in almost every major U.S. industry: 27,000 in health care, 15,000 in retail and 17,000 in manufacturing, making things like machinery and steel beams. Those job gains were due to a jump in U.S. exports. Manufacturers not tied to exports didn’t hire many people.
Dave Huether is chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers.
Dave Huether: I don’t think we’re going to see really significant increases in employment in manufacturing probably until 2011, 2012, when the domestic economy starts picking up steam and grows along with the global growth overseas.
OK, so manufacturing won’t be the engine for job growth, at least for now. Nigel Gault says an army of those temp workers will lead the charge, but that situation will be temporary.
Gault: But it’s been driving employment over the past four or five months. And as companies look to remain very flexible in their plans, they’re still going to be relying on a lot of temporaries over the next few months.
After that, Gault expects the service sector to take over. He’s even hoping to see gains in higher paying marketing and R&D jobs. Most economists say, whatever sector takes the lead, the economy is expected to continue creating jobs. Slowly.
Lou Crandall is chief economist at Wrightson ICAP.
Lou Crandall: It’s going to take years, but all you can ask for at this point is the right direction and month by month we see more and more evidence of that.
Economists will also be looking for evidence that the jobs being created are good jobs — permanent, full time, well paying, with benefits — like the manufacturing jobs created last month. They pay an average of more than $72,000 a year.
In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.
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