March Employment Growth Down 52 Percent Over February

The Economic Situation report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, April 3, revealed a growth of 126,000 jobs in March, a decrease of 138,000 jobs over February’s monthly employment growth.

March’s job growth is a 52 percent decrease over February’s revised employment number of 264,000 jobs, and a 37 percent decrease from January’s growth of 201,000 jobs. March’s job growth is also 44 percent less than a year previous, with 225,000 jobs gained in March 2014. Last month, the unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent, while the number of unemployed persons was little changed at 8.6 million. Over the last year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 1.1 percentage points and 1.8 million, respectively.

In March, jobs gained continued in professional and business services, health care and retail trade. Employment in mining continued to decline over the month.

Employment in professional and business services added 40,000 jobs last month, above the average monthly gain of 34,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2015 but below last year’s monthly average of 59,000 jobs. Within the supersector, employment growth continued for architectural and engineering services (+4,000), computer systems design and related services (+4,000), and management and technical consulting services (+4,000).

Health care added 22,000 jobs in March, with gains in ambulatory health care services (+19,000) and hospitals (+8,000). The nursing care facilities subsector lost 6,000 jobs last month.

Employment in retail trade continued to trend up (+26,000), in line with its prior 12-month average gain. Within retail trade, the general merchandise stores subsector added 11,000 jobs.

Employment in mining declined by 11,000 in March, mostly as a result of losses in support activities for mining such as support for oil and gas extraction. Since the beginning of the year, the industry has lost 30,000 jobs.

Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, showed little change over the month.

After revisions, total nonfarm payroll employment for the month of January and February were revised from 239,000 to 201,000 jobs, and 295,000 to 264,000 jobs, respectively. With these revisions, employment gains in January and February were 69,000 less than previously reported. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 197,000 per month.

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