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Jobs Report: Not Quite So Weak

The employment report for March released Apr. 6 suggests the broader manufacturing sector remains mired in recession, while the non-manufacturing economy finally appears to be taking a hit.

But much of the weakness remains concentrated few key industries -- manufacturing and the related help supply services, and retail trade. The 81,000 decline in manufacturing certainly was not a surprise given the depressed level of the figures in the recent National Association of Purchasing Managers (NAPM) report. And given that help-supply services declined 83,000, one could argue that the "real" manufacturing drag was -164,000. This leaves the ex-manufacturing (and ex-help services) aggregate rising 78,000.

While this 78,000 increase does mark a sharp slowdown from the near 200,000-per-month average seen over the past six months, it does suggests a bit firmer of a tone than that in the headline figure. This will add to the market's confusion over the data. From Standard & Poor's Global Markets

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