The job market may be cooling off, but the pace of hiring is still strong in some parts of the country.
The latest monthly job numbers showed a marked slowdown from the sustained hiring spree that began last year. The government’s official tally last week showed that just 126,000 jobs were created in March, a big disappointment amid widespread expectations that employers continued hiring at a monthly pace of more than 200,000.
The jobs report follows other signs showing the economy cooling off. A widely watched manufacturing index posted its slowest growth in March since May 2013. Housing market indicators have also been mixed.
For job seekers, a lot depends on where they’re looking. The slowest job gains in March were seen in the South and Midwest, according to a regional jobs report Wednesday from payroll processor ADP. Last week, the company reported a somewhat stronger pace of hiring than the government figures at the national level—a gain of 189,000 jobs overall in March.
“Job growth in the South is lagging compared to the strong pace it has shown in recent years, as the impact of lower energy prices ripples throughout the region,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, head of the of the ADP Research Institute.
While job growth has slowed in the South and Midwest, hiring has held up well in the Western and Mountain states. In the Pacific region, employers added 49,000 new jobs in March, a monthly gain of 0.27 percent. Another 25,000 jobs were added in the Mountain region, a gain of 0.30 percent. That works out to about 3.6 percent on an annual basis for those regions.
Nationally, the U.S. economy added about 2.6 million new jobs in the 12 months ended in March, or about a 1.8 percent gain in total employment, according to the government’s household jobs survey.
Hiring has been strongest in the professional and business services industries, with manufacturing showing the weakest gains.