Nationwide unemployment little changed in March, retail trade sees decline

April 5, 2013

Online Staff Report

Nonfarm payroll employment edged up in March (plus 88,000 jobs), and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported April 5.

Employment grew in professional and business services and in health care, but declined in retail trade.

The Rockford metro area’s unemployment rate stood at 13.4 percent in February, while the statewide unemployment rate was 10.5 percent in February. Metro area statistics for March will be released Thursday, April 25, while statewide statistics for March will be released Thursday, April 18.

Nationally, both the number of unemployed people, at 11.7 million, and the unemployment rate, at 7.6 percent, were little changed in March.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (6.9 percent), adult women (7 percent), teen-agers (24.2 percent), whites (6.7 percent), blacks (13.3 percent) and Hispanics (9.2 percent) showed little or no change in March. The jobless rate for Asians was 5 percent, little changed from a year earlier.

In March, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 4.6 million. These individuals accounted for 39.6 percent of the unemployed.

The civilian labor force declined by 496,000 over the month, and the labor force participation rate decreased by 0.2 percentage point to 63.3 percent. The employment- population ratio, at 58.5 percent, changed little.

The number of people employed part-time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) fell by 350,000 over the month to 7.6 million. These individuals were working part-time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In March, 2.3 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 803,000 discouraged workers in March, little changed from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are people not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million people marginally attached to the labor force in March had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Employment edged up in March, while over the prior 12 months, employment growth had averaged 169,000 per month. In March, employment increased in professional and business services and in health care, while retail trade employment declined.

Professional and business services added 51,000 jobs in March. Over the past 12 months, employment in this industry has grown by 533,000. Within professional and business services, accounting and bookkeeping services added 11,000 jobs over the month, and employment continued to trend up in temporary help services and in several other component industries.

Job growth in health care continued in March, with a gain of 23,000, similar to the prior 12-month average. Within health care, employment increased by 15,000 in ambulatory health care services, such as home health care, and by 8,000 in hospitals.

Construction employment continued to trend up in March (plus 18,000). Job growth in this industry picked up this past fall; since September, the industry has added 169,000 jobs. In March, employment continued to expand among specialty trade contractors (plus 23,000). Employment in specialty trade contractors has increased by 128,000 since September, with the gain about equally split between the residential and nonresidential components.

Within leisure and hospitality, employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up in March (plus 13,000). Over the past year, the industry added 262,000 jobs.

In March, retail trade employment declined by 24,000. The industry had added an average of 32,000 jobs per month over the prior six months. In March, job declines occurred in clothing and clothing accessories stores (minus 15,000), building material and garden supply stores (minus 10,000), and electronics and appliance stores (minus 6,000).

Within government, U.S. Postal Service employment fell by 12,000 in March. Employment in other major industries, including mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, state government, and local government showed little change over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour to 34.6 hours. The manufacturing workweek decreased by 0.1 hour to 40.8 hours, and factory overtime rose by 0.1 hour to 3.4 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.8 hours.

In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls, at $23.82, changed little (plus 1 cent). Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 42 cents, or 1.8 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees, at $20.03, changed little (minus 1 cent) in March.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from plus 119,000 to plus 148,000, and the change for February was revised from plus 236,000 to plus 268,000.

Posted April 5, 2013

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