Magazine article Economic Trends

Labor Markets

Magazine article Economic Trends

Labor Markets

Article excerpt

Total nonfarm payroll employment posted a net loss of 108,000 jobs in March, the second consecutive monthly decline this year. The net jobs loss for February (-357,000) was a larger loss than previously reported. Bad weather was one possible cause of February's big decline, but that decline was not reversed in March. The call-up of military reservists was another possible explanation, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics cannot quantify this factor's expected impact.

A wide range of industries lost jobs in March. Employment decreased by 94,000 jobs in service-producing industries and 14,000 for goods producers. Manufacturing employment slipped 36,000 jobs in March, which was its thirty-second consecutive month of losses and consistent with the industry's average decline in the previous two months. Construction's addition of 21,000 jobs followed a decline of 42,000 in February. Help supply (temporary) employment declined 48,000 in March, the industry's first loss in four months and its largest since September 2002. Government employment's unusual decline of 40,000 jobs was probably caused by the budget problems facing state and local governments. Wholesale and retail trade declined 43,000 jobs. Health services continued to add jobs, posting an increase of 22,000 in March.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.8%. The employment-to-population ratio fell 0.1 percentage point to 62.3.The four-week moving average of initial unemployment insurance claims, a leading economic indicator, rose to 426,250 for the week ending March 29, a level consistent with the contracting labor market. …

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