US adds 103k jobs in March; unemployment remains at 4.1%

The employment situation for Friday, April 6, 2018.

Total nonfarm payroll employment edged up by 103,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in manufacturing, healthcare and mining.

Household Survey Data

In March, the unemployment rate was 4.1% for the sixth consecutive month, and the number of unemployed persons, at 6.6 million, changed little. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.7%), adult women (3.7%), teenagers (13.5%), Whites (3.6%), Blacks (6.9%), Asians (3.1%), and Hispanics (5.1%) showed little or no change in March. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.) At 1.3 million, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed in March and accounted for 20.3% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 338,000. (See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate, at 62.9 percent, changed little in March, and the employment-population ratio held at 60.4 percent. (See table A-1.) The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 5.0 million in March. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or because they were unable to find full- time jobs. (See table A-8.)

In March, 1.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little different 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. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 450,000 discouraged workers in March, essentially unchanged from 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 1.0 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in March had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment edged up by 103,000 in March, following a large gain in February (+326,000). In March, employment grew in manufacturing, health care, and mining. (See table B-1.) In March, employment in manufacturing rose by 22,000, with all of the gain in the durable goods component. Employment in fabricated metal products increased over the month (+9,000).

Over the year, manufacturing has added 232,000 jobs; the durable goods component accounted for about three-fourths of the jobs added. In March, health care added 22,000 jobs, about in line with its average monthly gain over the prior 12 months. Employment continued to trend up over the month in ambulatory health care services (+16,000) and hospitals (+10,000).

Employment in mining increased by 9,000 in March, with gains occurring in support activities for mining (+6,000) and in oil and gas extraction (+2,000). Mining employment has risen by 78,000 since a recent low in October 2016. Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in March (+33,000) and has risen by 502,000 over the year. Retail trade employment changed little in March (-4,000), after increasing by 47,000 in February. In March, employment declined by 13,000 in general merchandise stores, offsetting a gain of the same size in February.

Over the year, employment in retail trade has shown little net change. In March, employment in construction also changed little (-15,000), following a large gain in February (+65,000). Employment changed little over the month in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government. The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.5 hours in March. In manufacturing, the workweek edged down by 0.1 hour to 40.9 hours; overtime edged down by 0.1 hour to 3.6 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 8 cents to $26.82. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 71 cents, or 2.7 percent. Average hourly earnings for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 4 cents to $22.42 in March. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised down from +239,000 to +176,000, and the change for February was revised up from +313,000 to +326,000. With these revisions, employment gains in January and February combined were 50,000 less than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.) After revisions, job gains have averaged 202,000 during the last three months. 

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The Employment Situation for April is scheduled to be released on Friday, May 4, 2018, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.