The payroll report disappointed again, though it was deficient in ways other than are commonly described. The monthly change is never a solid indication, good or bad, as the BLS’ statistical processes can only get it down to a 90% confidence interval, and a wide one at that. It means that any particular month by itself specifies very little, except under certain circumstances. This month just happens to be one, pointing in the direction of more useful interpretation.
At just +98k, the headline change in the Establishment Survey was about half of what was expected. In contrast to last month, such a low delta is meaningful in only one respect – given the confidence interval the BLS cannot say with significance that the payroll report for March 2017 was even positive. It still may have been lackluster or even a good one, but it also may have been negative.