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By Jason Stipp and Robert Johnson, CFA | 04-05-2013 09:00 AM

March Jobs Disappointing, But No Game Changer

Although March employment was weak, we're still within a generally steady--albeit slow--longer-term employment growth trend, says Morningstar's Bob Johnson.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar. We got a disappointing employment report from the government for March. It showed only 88,000 jobs were added to the economy. This is well-below most economists' forecasts, including Bob Johnson, our director of economic analysis. He is here to explain his take on the numbers, and where he thinks the job market might really be right now.

Thanks for joining me, Bob.

Bob Johnson: Great to be here.

Stipp: So, bottom line, this wasn't a very good report. There wasn’t a lot to like in this report. You thought we would get around 190,000.

Johnson: That's correct.

Stipp: We got 88,000, obviously, a disappointment.

What were some of the drivers here, and what's your take on that number?

Johnson: I think the number was a disappointing number, and I want to stress that. I think that we were about 100,000 below what I was thinking, what consensus was thinking, probably 80,000 or so below what the 12-month average has been. So, we were a little slow this month. But on the other hand, there were some pretty strong revisions to prior months as well. So, the number was not quite as bad as it looked.

Stipp: So the market's initial reaction was not pleased about this report. Do you think this report is a game changer, though?

Johnson: It is absolutely not a game changer. You start to look at the data in the ways that I like to, and it certainly wasn't nearly as disappointing as the headline numbers would suggest. I think the market is reacting to a lot of things. I mentioned last week in my column and in our video that a lot of the economic data was coming in just a little light to me, and yet the market made new highs last week.

This week we had some more disappointing data in several different categories, and now all of a sudden everybody that was rapidly raising their forecasts are now kind of saying, oh, maybe I shouldn't have been quite so bullish. So, it's more a reaction that everybody got way warmed up by a couple of reports on February's data, and we warned about that last week, and now more disappointing data this week, and I think the market is reacting to that--not just the jobs report. The jobs report really, if you peel back the onion, wasn't quite so disappointing.

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