As it has in each of the past two years, the U.S. economy has started off strongly in 2013. Real GDP grew at a 2.5% annual rate in the first quarter. Payroll employment increased by an average of 221,000 jobs per month from November 2012 to February 2013. However, signs of a slowdown began to emerge in March. Job growth slowed to 88,000 jobs, manufacturing production fell, and retail sales declined by 0.4%
The pace of job growth in the U.S. has begun to ramp up. In February 2013, employers added 236,000 jobs to their payrolls, the third time in the last four months that employment growth has exceeded 200,000.
The January employment report contained some startling data suggesting that the economy was healthier in 2012 than initially thought. While the payroll job growth for January was 157,000, roughly in line with the experience of the past three years, the historical data for 2012 was revised significantly upward. Instead of adding 1.8 million jobs as reported last month, job growth in 2012 is now estimated at 2.2 million.