April 16, 2024

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Cummins Power Generation Facility in Fridley, Minnesota, on April 3, 2023, part of his administration’s Investing in America tour. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – After setting three straight monthly records, the number of employed Americans leaped again last month, reaching another all-time high in March.

The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics says 160,892,000 Americans were employed last month, an increase of 577,000 over February’s record 160,315,000.

BLS defines employed Americans as those who, during the reference week, did some work for pay or profit, or did at least 15 hours of unpaid work in a family-operated business.

As the number of employed Americans jumped again last month, the number of unemployed Americans — no job, but looking — dropped by 97,000, producing an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, down a tenth of a point from February. (The 3.4 percent unemployment rate in January was the lowest it’s been since 1969.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Hispanics decreased to 4.6 percent in March, essentially offsetting an increase in the prior month. The unemployment rates for adult men (3.4 percent), adult women (3.1 percent), teenagers (9.8 percent), Whites (3.2 percent), Blacks (5.0 percent), and Asians (2.8 percent) showed little or no change over the month.

In another positive sign, the labor force participation rate climbed a tenth of a point to 62.6 percent, the highest it’s been in three years.

In March, the civilian non-institutional population in the United States was 266,272,000. That included all people 16 and older who did not live in an institution, such as a prison, nursing home or long-term care facility.

Of that civilian non-institutional population, 166,731,000 were participating in the labor force, meaning they were either employed or unemployed — they either had a job or were actively looking for one during the last month. This resulted in a labor force participation rate of 62.6 percent, the highest it’s been since Joe Biden became president, and up from 62.5 percent in February.

But on a less positive note, BLS says the non-farm economy added 236,000 jobs last month, below estimates of around 239,000. BLS said job creation has averaged around 334,000 in the prior six months.

In March, employment continued to trend up in leisure and hospitality, government, professional and business services, and health care.

Breaking it down by industry:

— Leisure and hospitality added 72,000 jobs in March, lower than the average monthly gain of 95,000 over the prior 6 months;

— Government employment, +47,000;

— Professional and business services, +39,000;

— Health care, +34,000 jobs;

— Transportation and warehousing, +10,000;

— Retail trade, -15,000;

— Employment showed little change over the month in other major industries, including mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; construction; manufacturing; wholesale trade; information; financial activities; and other services.

The number of Americans counted as not in the workforce — no job and not looking for one — dropped in March for a third straight month to 99,541,000. This group includes a growing number of retirees.

And the number of people not in the labor force who want a job — 4,925,000 — hasn’t been this low since December 2019. (These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the 4 weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job.)

In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 9 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $33.18. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.2 percent.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised down by 32,000, from +504,000 to +472,000, and the change for February was revised up by 15,000, from +311,000 to +326,000. With these revisions, employment in January and February combined is 17,000 lower than previously reported.

The business and economic reporting of CNSNews.com is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.