NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In March, 192,000 jobs were added in the U.S., down from 197,000 in February and still well below the pace needed to lower underemployment to respectable levels. The mediocre results are consistent with a broadly underperforming economy.
In the manufacturing sector, 1,000 jobs were lost, and the government stalled. Other than construction, which gained 19,000 employees, most new positions were in lower paying activities such as leisure and hospitality, support activities in health care, retail, and temporary business services.
Hourly earnings fell, indicating good jobs continue to be scarce. In 2013, gross domestic product grew only 1.9%, thanks to the $200 billion tax increase in January and spending cuts by the federal government, but after a slow first quarter, most economists expected the pace to accelerate to 3% by the second half of this year.
Meanwhile, improved prospects are raising home values and Congress isn't likely to approve the higher taxes President Obama has in his budget proposal. Jobs creation is likely to be in the range of 200,000 per month, but should the president get the higher taxes he wants, the situation would worsen.
Global growth is rebalancing from Asia to the Atlantic community, as Europe shakes off the worst of its sovereign and bank debt problems, which will reduce vulnerabilities to dodgy financial practices and economic nationalism in places such as China, Japan and Latin America.
Though the shenanigans on Wall Street ranging from high-speed traders stealing from ordinary investors to the endless imagination of the casino gamblers at the big banks continue to threaten financial stability, the Federal Reserve and other U.S. regulatory agencies are proving more diligent than during the Bush years.