(April 6, 2012) — Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 120,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 8.2 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in manufacturing, food services and drinking places, and health care, but was down in retail trade.
Household Survey Data
The number of unemployed persons (12.7 million) and the unemployment rate (8.2 percent) were both little changed in March. Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.6 percent), adult women (7.4 percent), teenagers (25.0 percent), whites (7.3 percent), blacks (14.0 percent), and Hispanics (10.3 percent) showed little or no change in March. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.2 percent, not seasonally adjusted.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was essentially unchanged at 5.3 million in March. These individuals accounted for 42.5 percent of the unemployed. Since April 2010, the number of long-term unemployed has fallen by 1.4 million.
The civilian labor force participation rate (63.8 percent) and the employment-population ratio (58.5 percent) were little changed in March.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) fell from 8.1 to 7.7 million over the month. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
In March, 2.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.
Among the marginally attached, there were 865,000 discouraged workers in March, about the same as a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in March had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
Establishment Survey Data
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 120,000 in March. In the prior 3 months, payroll employment had risen by an average of 246,000 per month. Private-sector employment grew by 121,000 in March, including gains in manufacturing, food services and drinking places, and health care. Retail trade lost jobs over the month. Government employment was essentially unchanged.
Manufacturing employment rose by 37,000 in March, with gains in motor vehicles and parts (+12,000), machinery (+7,000), fabricated metals (+5,000), and paper manufacturing (+3,000). Factory employment has risen by 470,000 since a recent low point in January 2010.
Within leisure and hospitality, employment in food services and drinking places rose by 37,000 in March and has risen by 563,000 since a recent low point in February 2010.
In March, health care employment continued to grow (+26,000). Within the industry, offices of physicians and hospitals each added 8,000 jobs over the month.
Employment in financial activities was up by 15,000 in March, with most of the gain occurring in credit intermediation (+11,000).
Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in March (+31,000). Employment in the industry has grown by 1.4 million since a recent low point in September 2009. In March, services to buildings and dwellings added 23,000 jobs. Employment in temporary help services was about unchanged over the month after increasing by 55,000 in February.
Retail trade employment fell by 34,000 in March. A large job loss in general merchandise stores (-32,000) and small losses in other retail industries more than offset gains in health and personal care stores (+6,000) and in building material and garden supply stores (+5,000).
Employment in the other major private-sector industries, including mining, construction, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and information, changed little in March.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours in March. The manufacturing workweek fell by 0.3 hour to 40.7 hours, and factory overtime was unchanged at 3.4 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.8 hours.
In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 5 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $23.39. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 2.1 percent. In March, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 3 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $19.68.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from +284,000 to +275,000, and the change for February was revised from +227,000 to +240,000.