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U.S. economy adds 916k jobs in March as states ease pandemic restrictions more broadly
How do you feel about the state of the job market?
By Eric Revell, Countable News
What’s the story?
- On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its jobs report for March 2021, which found the U.S. economy added 916,000 jobs and the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage points to 6.0%. The report exceeded the Dow Jones forecast of 675,000 jobs and a 6.0% unemployment rate.
- BLS observed, “These improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” The job gains were the highest since 1.58 million were added in August 2020 and leave total employment about 8.4 million jobs below its pre-pandemic level as this USAFacts chart shows:
- This USAFacts chart shows the monthly unemployment rate dating back to 2007, which shows the gradual improvement in the labor market since the pandemic began:
Jobs Report Sector Breakdown
- Leisure and hospitality employment increased by 280,000 with much of the increase occurring in food services and drinking places (+176,000), although the sector as a whole is still 3.1 million jobs below its February 2020 level.
- Education added jobs as in-person learning and other school-related activities resumed, with local (+76,000) and state (+50,000) government education agencies, and private schools (+64,000) all gaining jobs. Compared to their February 2020 levels, local government education (-594,000), state government education (-270,000), and private education (-310,000) are all well shy of their prior employment levels.
- Construction added 110,000 jobs after a decline of 56,000 in February that was likely weather-related. It is 182,000 jobs below its February 2020 level.
- Professional and business services added 66,000 jobs but is 685,000 jobs below its February 2020 level.
- Manufacturing added 53,000 jobs in March with gains in both durable goods (+30,000) and non-durable goods (+23,000). The manufacturing sector is 515,000 jobs below its February 2020 level.
- Retail added 23,000 jobs in March with gains by clothing stores (+16,000), motor vehicle and parts dealers (+13,000), and home furnishing stores (+6,000) partially offset by declines in build and garden supply stores (-9,000) and general merchandise stores (-7,000). The sector is 381,000 jobs below its February 2020 level.
Short-Term & Long-Term Unemployment
- There were 9.7 million unemployed Americans in March, over 43% of whom have been out of work for 27 weeks or more which, in most cases, puts them past the coverage limit of state unemployment insurance programs. The American Rescue Plan Act extended the $300 per week federal enhancement of unemployment benefits through September.
- This USAFacts chart breaks down how long unemployed Americans have been out of work:
Demographic Unemployment Information
- Unemployment rates declined for adult men (to 5.8% from 6.0% in February), adult women (5.7% from 5.9% in February), and teenagers (13.0% from 13.9% in February).
- Unemployment rates declined among whites (to 5.4% from 5.7% in February), blacks (9.6% from 9.9% in February), Hispanics (7.9% from 8.5% in February), and increased among Asians (to 6.0% from 5.1% in February).
- This USAFacts chart shows the unemployment rate based on race and ethnicity dating back to early 2019:
- Americans without high school diplomas or college degrees suffered the most initial job loss at the onset of the pandemic and have experienced a slower recovery. This USAFacts chart shows that while Americans age 25 and up who have college degrees are only 0.34% below their pre-pandemic level of employment, those with only a high school diploma are 8.7% behind their pre-pandemic level and those without a high school diploma are 10.14% beneath their February 2020 level:
Revisions & Data Notes
- Employment in February was revised up by 89,000 from +379,000 to +468,000.
- Employment in January was revised up by 67,000 from +166,000 to +233,000.
- As it has since March 2020, the BLS published an estimate of what the unemployment rate would have been had misclassified workers been included. The misclassification hinges on a question about the main reason people were absent from their jobs, with people absent due to temporary, pandemic-related closures recorded as absent due to “other reasons” as opposed to unemployed due to temporary layoff.
- Using this approach, the March 2021 unemployment rate would have been 0.4 percentage points higher than reported. The BLS notes that this represents the upper bound of their estimate of misclassification and probably overstates the size of the misclassification error.
- According to usual practice at the BLS, data is accepted as recorded in the household survey. To maintain data integrity, no ad hoc actions are taken to reclassify survey responses.
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / Pixfly)
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