employment

US Adds 916K Jobs in March

According to this morning’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report, total U.S. nonfarm payroll employment rose by 916,000 in March, while the unemployment rate edged down to 6.0%. These improvements reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Job growth was widespread in March, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, public and private education, and construction.

The unemployment rate is down considerably from its recent high in April 2020 (14.7%), but is 2.5 percentage points higher than its pre- pandemic level in February 2020 (3.5%). The number of unemployed persons, at 9.7 million, continued to trend down in March but is 4 million higher than in February 2020.

Job growth in March was widespread, with the largest gains occurring in leisure and hospitality, public and private education, and construction.

Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 280,000, as pandemic-related restrictions eased in many parts of the country. Nearly two-thirds of the increase was in food services and drinking places (+176,000). Job gains also occurred in arts, entertainment, and recreation (+64,000) and in accommodation (+40,000). Employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 3.1 million, or 18.5%, since February 2020.

Construction added 110,000 jobs in March, following job losses in the previous month (-56,000) that were likely weather-related. Employment growth in the industry was widespread, with gains of 65,000 in specialty trade contractors, 27,000 in heavy and civil engineering construction, and 18,000 in construction of buildings. Employment in construction is 182,000 below its February 2020 level.

Employment in professional and business services rose by 66,000 over the month but is down by 685,000 since February 2020. Employment in administrative and support services continued to trend up (+37,000), although employment in its temporary help services component was essentially unchanged. Employment also continued on an upward trend in management and technical consulting services (+8,000) and in computer systems design and related services (+6,000).

Manufacturing employment rose by 53,000, with job gains occurring in both durable goods (+30,000) and nondurable goods (+23,000). Employment in manufacturing is down by 515,000 since February 2020.

Transportation and warehousing added 48,000 jobs. Employment increased in couriers and messengers (+17,000), transit and ground passenger transportation (+13,000), support activities for transportation (+6,000), and air transportation (+6,000). Since  February 2020, employment in couriers and messengers is up by 206,000 (or 23.3%), while employment is down by 112,000 (or 22.8%) in transit and ground passenger  transportation and by 104,000 (or 20.1%) in air transportation.

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