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You are Here: Home > Blog > Unemployment Rate – March 2018

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Unemployment Rate – March 2018

Friday, April 6th, 2018

Analysts had expected around 185,000 total net job gains for March, and for the unemployment rate to drop a notch. Neither happened.

According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private sector gained only 102,000 nonfarm jobs in March. Local, state and federal governments gained 1,000 jobs, resulting in a mere 103,000 total net job gains for the month.

Worse, after revisions, January and February job gains were 50,000 fewer than the BLS originally estimated. The better news is, March’s lackluster job growth is attributed to colder than usual weather. Subsequently, it’s likely to be just be a blip and not a sign of a weakening job market.

March was the 90th consecutive month for job gains, the longest stretch since the federal government began tracking them in the 1930s. Job gains have averaged 202,000 per month over the last 3 months.

Manufacturing gained 22,000 jobs in March. Manufacturing has added 232,000 jobs over the past year.

Health care also added 22,000 jobs, about the same as it’s added every month over the the past 12. Much of the industry’s steady job growth over the past few years, even throughout the Great Recession, is attributable to the increasing medical demands of aging baby boomers and the ever-growing obesity epidemic, and to provisions in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) as well.

At 33,000, job growth continued to trend upward in professional and business services. The industry has added 502,000 jobs over the past year.

Both the retail trade (-4,000) and construction (-15,000) industries lost jobs in March. (Job loses shown in parenthesis.)

The March unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent for the sixth month in a row, the lowest level since December 2000 when it was 3.9 percent. Analysts had expected the rate to fall to 4.0 percent. The unemployment rate has dropped 5.9 percentage points since it peaked at 10 percent during the Great Recession.

The average hourly wage for all private-sector employees showed a gain in March, rising by 8 cents to $26.82 after a 4-cent rise in February. Average hourly wages have risen by 71 cents (2.7 percent) over the past year. The average hourly wage increased by 4 cents to $22.42 for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees.

Did you know?Starbucks, Walmart, Macy’s, JPMorgan Chase, Hilton, Microsoft, Walgreens and a variety of other major U.S. companies have formed the “100,000 Opportunities Initiative”. By this year, the companies intend to train and hire 100,000 teenagers and young adults (from 16 to 24 years old) who face obstacles to employment and educational opportunities. Visit the Website linked above for more information.

Unemployment Rate 2016-2018
Unemployment Rate Chart 2016 to 2018

The unemployment rate edged down to 4.1 percent in October 2017 and remained there through March 2018. The total number of workers that the BLS counted as unemployed in March was 6.6 million, down a bit from 6.7 million in February.

The count of unemployed workers does not include those 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 in March was 5.0 million, down from 5.2 million in February.

The average workweek in March for all part-timers and full-timers in the private sector was 34.5 hours, the same as in February.

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 simply are no jobs — at least not for them.

The number of marginally-attached workers in March was 1.5 million, down a little from 1.6 in February. Among the marginally-attached, 450,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs for them. That was up from 373,000 in February. (The BLS does not seasonally adjust any of the figures in this paragraph.)

The number of long-term unemployed workers, those who have been without jobs for 27 weeks or longer, was 1.3 million in March, down a little from 1.4 million in February. These workers accounted for 20.3 percent of the unemployed. Standard state unemployment benefits last only up to 26 weeks without extensions.

If you are a recent victim of a job loss or a reduction in work hours, 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 2018 unemployment rate and job numbers, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the April 2018 unemployment rate and job numbers on Friday, May 4. To receive notification like the above automatically, subscribe to Employee Rights Blog for free.

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Except where otherwise noted, 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.

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