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Non-Farm Payrolls +88K, Unemployment Rate 7.6%, Participation Rate Lowest

Big disappointment in the Non-Farm Payrolls report: the US gained only 88K jobs in March. Official expectations were for a gain of around 190K jobs, but real expectations were lower after weak data. The unemployment was predicted to remain unchanged at 7.7% and fell to 7.6%, but this is only thanks to the worst participation rate since 1979: 63.3%. There were big revisions, +61K in total.

EUR/USD rose towards the events and approached the 1.2960 line. It is now above 1.30. The break isn’t confirmed yet.  Update: EUR/USD is struggling around this round number.

USD/JPY stabilized at 96.20 after the huge leap yesterday and it is sliding now. Update: dollar/yen reversed and is rising a bit.

Update: Analysis –  US jobs disappoint – where next for USD?

The Details

  • Non-Farm Payrolls: +88K
  • Participation Rate:  63.3%  (63.5% last month) – worst since 1979.
  • Unemployment Rate: 7.6%  (last month 7.7% before revisions)
  • Revisions: +61K  – January was revised from +119,000 to +148,000, and the change for February was revised from  +236,000 to +268,000.  Last month saw revisions of -15K.
  • Private Sector NFP:  +95K (ADP showed +158K, below expectations)
  • Real Unemployment Rate (U-6): 13.8% (previous: 14.3%) – big fall.
  • Employment to population ratio: 58.5 (previous: 58.6%)
  • Average Hourly Earnings: 0% versus +0.2% expected.
  • Average  workweek 34.6 hours versus 34.5 predicted.

The US trade balance deficit was expected to stand at around $44.8 billion. The deficit squeezed to 43 billion.


All in all, this is a weak report that lowers the chances of removing monetary stimulus anytime soon. Bernanke and the doves received more fuel for QE. The meeting minutes will be released next week. They might contain some hawkish words, but after this report, the hawks could retreat to their nests, leaving the doves to fly in the sky.

Yet again, private jobs exceed the total jobs, so the government shed jobs once again. Will the US propose new fiscal stimulus on this background? With the divisions in Washington, it is hard to see that happening. The sequester is probably here to stay.


Expectations towards the Non-Farm Payrolls fell from the early expectations of +200K, due to weak indicators. ADP NFP showed a gain of 158K, below expectations, and jobless claims leaped to 385K.

The ISM figures also fell short of expectations, with manufacturing dropping to 51.3  (with a small rise in the employment component)  and more importantly services dropped to 54.5 points  with the employment component plunging from 57.2 to 53.3 points.

Last month, the jobs report was excellent, a gain of 236K jobs (before revisions) and a drop of the unemployment rate to 7.7%. The report sparked hopes that QE would be tapered down sooner than later.

Yohay Elam

Yohay Elam

Yohay Elam: Founder, Writer and Editor I have been into forex trading for over 5 years, and I share the experience that I have and the knowledge that I've accumulated. After taking a short course about forex. Like many forex traders, I've earned a significant share of my knowledge the hard way. Macroeconomics, the impact of news on the ever-moving currency markets and trading psychology have always fascinated me. Before founding Forex Crunch, I've worked as a programmer in various hi-tech companies. I have a B. Sc. in Computer Science from Ben Gurion University. Given this background, forex software has a relatively bigger share in the posts.