Successful job interview with boss and employee handshaking

Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 431,000 jobs in March, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This follows the addition of 750,000 jobs in February (revised up from 678,000) and 504,000 jobs in January (revised up from 481,000). 

Employment is now 1.6 million jobs (1%) behind its pre-pandemic count.

Unemployment rates decrease across worker groups

Dropping from 3.8% to 3.6%, the overall unemployment rate continued to improve in March, with the number of people experiencing unemployment falling by 318,000 to 6.0 million. Unemployment is steadily approaching what it was before the pandemic — or 3.5% and 5.7 million, respectively.

Unemployment rates declined slightly for all major worker groups last month: 

  • Adult men: 3.4% (3.5% in February)
  • Adult women: 3.3% (3.6% in February)
  • Teenagers: 10.0% (10.3% in February)
  • Black/African American: 6.2% (6.6% in February)
  • Hispanic/Latino: 4.2% (4.4% in February)
  • Asian: 2.8% (3.1% in February)
  • White: 3.2% (3.3% in February)

Jobless numbers inch closer to pre-pandemic levels

The number of temporary layoffs changed little in March, but, at 787,000, it has more or less returned to its pre-pandemic status. Those experiencing permanent job loss fell by 191,000 to 1.4 million. And the count of unemployed people who quit or left previous jobs voluntarily dropped by 176,000 to 787,000. 

Long-term unemployment (jobless for 27 weeks or more) also decreased, falling 274,000 to reach 1.4 million and representing 23.9% of the total unemployed for the month. This number is just 307,000 higher than in February 2020. The labor force participation rate, at 62.4%, barely budged in March.

At 10%, down from 13% in February, fewer employees teleworked due to the pandemic last month. The number of those unable to work because of pandemic-related business closures also fell significantly in March, from 4.2 million to 2.5 million. The pandemic prevented 874,000 people from looking for work last month, which is down from 1.2 million in February.

Leisure and hospitality, professional and business services lead job growth

Leisure and hospitality had the most job growth in March with the addition of 112,000 jobs, still 1.5 million (8.7%) down from its February 2020 status. Professional and business services also had significant job growth for the month, increasing by 102,000 jobs. The industry has now surpassed its pre-pandemic level by 723,000 jobs.

Other notable job gains included:

  • Retail trade (+49,000)
  • Manufacturing (+38,000)
  • Social assistance (+25,000)
  • Construction (+19,000)
  • Financial activities (+16,000)

All other major industries had little to no change for the month.

Up by $0.13, average hourly earnings for private nonfarm employees rose to $31.73 in March. This average has increased by 5.6% over the past year.