US Bureau of Labor Statistics

The overall unemployment rate fell by two tenths of a percent in March, to 4.5 percent, as reported by the US Department of Labor. It was 5.0 percent a year ago in March 2016.

The civilian labor force participation rate remained unchanged in March, at 63.0 percent.

The employment-population ratio once again rose by one tenth of a percent to 60.1 percent in March. March’s number marks the highest employment-population ratio since February 2009. The employment-population ratio has been on a gradual upward trend since October 2013.*

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 98,000 in March. This is the lowest number of monthly nonfarm payroll jobs created since May 2016.

The unemployment rate for individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree rose by one tenth of a percent to 2.5 percent in March. The rate for individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree has not significantly changed since March 2015.

*It should be noted that as of January 2016, updated population estimates are being utilized when calculating employment data. BLS did not modify previous months utilizing the new estimates, so if comparing data from 2016 to earlier months, understand that there will be slight differences in the way the data was derived.

Some details directly from the BLS report:


Total nonfarm payroll employment edged up by 98,000 in March, following gains of 219,000 in February and 216,000 in January. Over the month, employment growth occurred in professional and business services (+56,000) and in mining (+11,000), while retail trade lost jobs (-30,000).

In March, employment in professional and business services rose by 56,000, about in line with the average monthly gain over the prior 12 months. Over the month, job gains occurred in services to buildings and dwellings (+17,000) and in architectural and engineering services (+7,000).

Mining added 11,000 jobs in March, with most of the gain occurring in support activities for mining (+9,000). Mining employment has risen by 35,000 since reaching a recent low in October 2016.

In March, employment continued to trend up in health care(+14,000), with job gains in hospitals (+9,000) and outpatient care centers (+6,000). In the first 3 months of this year, health care added an average of 20,000 jobs per month, compared with an average monthly gain of 32,000 in 2016.

Employment in financial activities continued to trend up in March (+9,000) and has increased by 178,000 over the past 12 months.

Construction employment changed little in March (+6,000), following a gain of 59,000 in February. Employment in construction has been trending up since late last summer, largely among specialty trade contractors and in residential building.

Retail trade lost 30,000 jobs in March. Employment in general merchandise stores declined by 35,000 in March and has declined by 89,000 since a recent high in October 2016.

Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality, and government, showed little or no change over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.3 hours in March. In manufacturing, the workweek edged down by 0.2 hour to 40.6 hours, and overtime edged down by 0.1 hour to 3.2 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.5 hours.

In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 5 cents to $26.14, following a 7-cent increase in February. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 68 cents, or 2.7 percent. In March, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 4 cents to $21.90.