March Employment Statistics

 
Friday, April 3, 2009
 
Labor market conditions continued to deteriorate in March.
Total nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 663,000, and the
unemployment rate increased from 8.1 to 8.5 percent. Since the
beginning of the recession in December 2007, job losses have
totaled 5.1 million, 3.3 million of which occurred in just the
past 5 months. These declines have been widespread across
industry sectors, but particularly sharp in manufacturing,
construction, and temporary help services. Together, these
industries have accounted for nearly two-thirds of the job loss
during the recession.

In March, manufacturing employment fell by 161,000, with job
losses spread throughout the sector. Since the start of the
recession, manufacturing has shed 1.5 million jobs, with about 60
percent of the loss occurring in the past 5 months. In March,
the average workweek in manufacturing decreased by
two-tenths of an hour.

Construction employment declined by 126,000 over the month.
Since the beginning of the recession, employment has dropped by
about 1.1 million, with more than half of that total occurring in
the past 5 months.

In March, employment continued to contract throughout most
of the service-providing sector. Temporary help services
employment shrank by 72,000 over the month. Employment in the
industry is down by about three-quarters of a million since the
recession began, with over half of that coming in the past 5
months. In March, other large job losses occurred in retail
trade (-48,000), financial activities (-43,000), transportation
and warehousing (-34,000), accommodation and food services
(-32,000), and wholesale trade (-31,000).

Health care employment continued to trend up in March,
although the pace of job growth appears to have slowed in the
past 3 months. In the first quarter of 2009, the industry added
an average of 17,000 jobs per month, compared with a monthly
average of 30,000 in 2008.

Summarizing the labor market developments for March, payroll
employment fell by 663,000, and the unemployment rate climbed to
8.5 percent. Since the beginning of the recession in December
2007, job losses have totaled 5.1 million.
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