March proved to be a solid month for U.S. jobmakers, according to a Friday report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Retailers appear to have led the 215,000 gains in nonfarm employment on the month. This is a hopeful sign for an industry that has long been impeded by waning consumer demand as the appetite for e-commerce mounts.
The overall sector tacked on 48,000 jobs in March, primarily led by 12,000 new positions at general merchandise outlets, according to the BLS. Meanwhile, personal care stores and building and garden supply stores each added about 10,000 new positions. This could help further support Wall Street's increasingly bullish outlook on home-improvement stores such as Home Depot (HD) and Lowe's (LOW), whose shares each rose about 6% in March.
The construction and health care industries also supported March's big gains, each adding about 37,000 new jobs on the month. Specialty trade contractors led construction with 12,000 new jobs, followed by 11,000 in new civil engineering positions. And 27,000 new jobs in ambulatory services helped lead health care, followed by gains of 10,000 hospital positions.
However, manufacturing jobs proved to be the big laggard on the month, with the BLS estimating losses of 29,000. Cuts to durable-goods manufacturing were the most severe, clocking in at roughly 24,000,followed by 7,000 losses in jobs tied to machinery, and 3,000 cuts in both the manufacturing of metals and in electronic-component industries.