Employment Rate Edges Down to 6% in March
Total non-farm payroll employment rose by 916,000 in March, and the unemployment rate edged down to 6.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These improvements in the labor market 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 edged down to 6.0 percent in March. The rate is down considerably from its recent high in April 2020 but is 2.5 percentage points higher than its pre-pandemic level in February 2020. The number of unemployed persons, at 9.7 million, continued to trend down in March but is 4.0 million higher than in February 2020.
Among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff declined by 203,000 in March to 2.0 million. This measure is down considerably from the recent high of 18.0 million in April 2020 but is 1.3 million higher than in February 2020. The number of permanent job losers, at 3.4 million, was little changed in March but is 2.1 million higher than February 2020.
Employment in professional and business services rose by 66,000 over the month but is down by 685,000 since February 2020. In March, 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).
Financial activities added 16,000 jobs in March. Job gains in insurance carriers and related activities (+11,000) and real estate (+10,000) more than offset losses in credit intermediation and related activities (-7,000). Financial activities has 87,000 fewer jobs than in February 2020.
Employment in health care and information changed little in March.