The economy gained slightly fewer jobs than economists had expected in March, while the U.S. unemployment rate remained the same.
According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the March unemployment rate stayed at 6.7 percent from February. The private sector netted 192,000 job gains while local, state, and federal governments netted none.
Analysts had expected around 200,000 net job gains in March, according to several sources, because of a rebound from the unusually cold weather and huge amounts of snow in the previous month.
The BLS also revised its job numbers for January and February, showing that the economy gained 37,000 more jobs than it had previously estimated. The BLS upwardly revised January job gains from 129,000 to 144,000 and those in February from 175,000 to 197,000.
The private sector has now gained nonfarm jobs for 49 consecutive months since the Great Recession, with total nonfarm employment (private sector, plus or minus government) showing net job gains in each of the last 42 of those months. After BLS revisions, the U.S. economy has netted an average of 183,000 nonfarm jobs per month over the past year.
At 57,000, the most notable March net job gains were in the professional and business services industry. Temporary help services (“temp workers”) gained 29,000 of those. The industry as a whole has netted an average of 56,000 jobs per month over the past year.
Next in line was the retail trade industry, with 21,300 net job gains.
Employment in the construction industry continued to trend upward in March, with 19,000 net job gains. Construction has added 151,000 jobs over the past year.
Over 100 American construction companies have pledged to hire more than 100,000 veterans within the next five years.
The healthcare industry also added 19,000 jobs. The industry has averaged 17,000 net job gains per month over the past year. It was among the few industries that gained jobs every month throughout the Great Recession.
The manufacturing industry lost 1,000 jobs. The industry has gained a monthly average of only 9,000 jobs so far in 2014, and it gained only 7,000 jobs per month in 2013.
Among the major work groups tracked by the BLS, teenagers again suffered the highest unemployment rate (20.9 percent) followed by blacks (12.4), Hispanics (7.9), adult women (6.2), adult men (6.2), whites (5.8) and Asians (5.4, not seasonally adjusted). No group experienced a significant change in their unemployment rate from February.
Workers who are 25 years of age or older and who have earned four-year college degrees or higher experienced a 3.4 percent unemployment rate in March, the same as in February. Those in the same age group and who don’t have high school diplomas suffered a 9.6 percent rate, down slightly from 9.8 in February.
The unemployment rate remained at 6.7% despite the March job gains, because 57,000 of those who had previously given up searching for jobs started searching again. (More information about them, the so-called discouraged workers, is below.) For the BLS to count workers as unemployed, they must be actively seeking jobs in the four weeks preceding the count. The BLS counted 10.5 million workers as unemployed in March.
That count and the unemployment rate do not include workers who are involuntarily working only part time and with fewer benefits, if any, such as no health insurance, because they can’t find full-time jobs or employers cut their work hours. The number of involuntarily part-timers was 7.4 million, up slightly from 7.2 million in February.
The average workweek for both part-timers and full-timers was 34.5 hours in March, up slightly from 34.2 hours. Average hourly earnings dropped by 1 cent to $24.30, after a 9 cent increase in February. Average hourly earnings have risen by 49 cents (2.1 percent) in a year.
The unemployment rate also does not include “marginally-attached” unemployed workers. The BLS does not count them in the official rate because they stopped looking for work in the four weeks preceding the count, for reasons such as school attendance, family matters or their collective perception that there are no jobs.
The number of marginally-attached workers in March was 2.2 million, down from 2.3 million. Among the marginally-attached, 698,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs — at least not for them. The number of discouraged workers was down from the 755,000 that the BLS initially reported in February, which is mostly why the unemployment rate didn’t change. (The BLS does not seasonally adjust any of the figures in this paragraph.)
The number of long-term unemployed workers, those who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer, was 3.7 million in March, down slightly from 3.8 million in February. These workers accounted for 35.8 percent of the unemployed. Standard state unemployment benefits last only up to 26 weeks without extensions.
Since the beginning of this year, congressional Republicans have blocked passing a bill to extend federal unemployment benefits into 2014. See the blog “Unemployment Benefit Extensions 2013 – Updated for 2014” for updates on the 2014 extensions.
If you are a recent victim of job loss or a reduction in work hours resulting from the high unemployment rate, then you might be eligible to collect full or partial unemployment benefits from the state unemployment office. You might also be eligible to continue your employer-provided group health insurance coverage through COBRA.
For more details about the March 2014 unemployment rate and related matters, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the April unemployment rate and job numbers on May 2. To receive notification like the above automatically, subscribe to Employee Rights Blog for free.
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Certain figures in this unemployment rate report were rounded and/or seasonally adjusted by the BLS, and are subject to revision by same (based on additional data that was not initially available). The unemployment rate chart pictured above was provided by the BLS.