Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 431,000 in March, and the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 3.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported April 1. The number of unemployed persons decreased by 318,000 to 6.0 million. These measures are little different from their values in February 2020 (3.5 percent and 5.7 million, respectively), prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Overall, job growth averaged 562,000 per month in the first quarter of 2022, the same as the average monthly gain for 2021. However, employment is down by 1.6 million, or 1.0 percent, from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.
Notable job gains continued in leisure and hospitality (+112,000), professional and business services (+102,000), retail trade (+49,000), manufacturing (+38,000), social assistance (+25,000), construction (+19,000), financial activities (+16,000), and healthcare (+8,000). Employment in transportation and warehousing was essentially unchanged in March (-1,000), following large gains in the prior 2 months. Employment showed little change over the month in mining, wholesale trade, information, other services, and government.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult women (3.3 percent) declined in March. The jobless rates for adult men (3.4 percent), teenagers (10.0 percent), Whites (3.2 percent), Blacks (6.2 percent), Asians (2.8 percent), and Hispanics (4.2 percent) showed little change over the month.
Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers decreased by 191,000 to 1.4 million in March and is little different from its February 2020 level of 1.3 million. The number of persons on temporary layoff was little changed over the month at 787,000 and has essentially returned to its February 2020 level. The number of job leavers—that is, unemployed persons who quit or voluntarily left their previous job and began looking for new employment—fell by 176,000 to 787,000 in March.
In March, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) decreased by 274,000 to 1.4 million. This measure is 307,000 higher than in February 2020. The long-term unemployed accounted for 23.9 percent of all unemployed persons in March.
The labor force participation rate, at 62.4 percent, changed little in March. The employment-population ratio increased by 0.2 percentage point to 60.1 percent. Both measures remain below their February 2020 values (63.4 percent and 61.2 percent, respectively).
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons was about unchanged at 4.2 million in March and is little different from its February 2020 level. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.
The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job increased by 382,000 to 5.7 million in March, following a decrease of a similar magnitude in the prior month. This measure is above its February 2020 level of 5.0 million. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the 4 weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job.
Among those not in the labor force who wanted a job, the number of persons marginally attached to the labor force, at 1.4 million, changed little in March. These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, was essentially unchanged over the month at 373,000.
Impact of the pandemic. In March, 10.0 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, down from 13.0 percent in the prior month. These data refer to employed persons who teleworked or worked at home for pay at some point in the 4 weeks preceding the survey specifically because of the pandemic.
In March, 2.5 million persons reported that they had been unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic—that is, they did not work at all or worked fewer hours at some point in the 4 weeks preceding the survey due to the pandemic. This measure is down from 4.2 million in the previous month. Among those who reported in March that they were unable to work because of pandemic-related closures or lost business, 15.4 percent received at least some pay from their employer for the hours not worked, down from 20.3 percent in February.
Among those not in the labor force in March, 874,000 persons were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic, down from 1.2 million in the prior month. (To be counted as unemployed, by definition, individuals must be either actively looking for work or on temporary layoff.)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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