Census Hiring Boosts Employment Payrolls The economy added about 160,000 jobs in March, according to the Labor Department. That's the biggest increase in three years, which reflects temporary hiring for the census. Analysts say it's a clear sign the labor market is on the mend.
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Census Hiring Boosts Employment Payrolls

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Census Hiring Boosts Employment Payrolls

Census Hiring Boosts Employment Payrolls

Census Hiring Boosts Employment Payrolls

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  • Transcript

The economy added about 160,000 jobs in March, according to the Labor Department. That's the biggest increase in three years, which reflects temporary hiring for the census. Analysts say it's a clear sign the labor market is on the mend.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

But there are caveats, and to find out more, we turn to Frank Langfitt, NPR's labor correspondent. Good morning.

FRANK LANGFITT: Good morning, Mary Louise.

LOUISE KELLY: Alright, so walk us through this. This is good news this morning.

LANGFITT: So really looking back, I'd say these were easily the best numbers that we've seen in at least two years.

LOUISE KELLY: Is there anything that should give us pause in this report?

LANGFITT: The other thing is that we probably got a bit of an increase because of snow. Back in February the big blizzards here in the Northeast would have kept people from hiring, they might not have been at work when the Department of Labor called. So this is definitely a lot higher, a bit higher than probably the reality out there.

LOUISE KELLY: So help me square something here, Frank. The economy has added 160,000 new jobs, but the unemployment rate stayed the same - still 9.7 percent. How do you square those two?

LANGFITT: The other thing - and you're getting to something, I think, that's very important that you don't see as much at the top of the report, and that is we have a lot of people still out of work and out of work for a long time. We lost eight million jobs during - more than eight million jobs during the recession. And what we're seeing is long-term unemployment is now at historic levels. More than six million people have been out of work for more than 27 weeks, and that's really a staggering number.

LOUISE KELLY: That must have long-term implications, to have so many people out of work, as you say, for so long.

LANGFITT: It does. I mean particularly what it means is that a lot of these people are going to have even more trouble getting back in the labor market. We're not - even though we're adding jobs, we're not adding enough to kind of sop up some of these folks. And what it means is the longer you're out of work, the harder it is, as you know, to get - to get a new job, get a job that paid anywhere what you had before. And also there's a big psychological impact. When people have been out of work for so long, it affects their self-esteem, it affects what home life is like. So that may be one of the great long-term and painful legacies of this recession, is all these people who've been out of work for so long.

LOUISE KELLY: Thanks, Frank.

LANGFITT: You're very welcome, Mary Louise.

LOUISE KELLY: That's NPR's labor correspondent, Frank Langfitt.

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