The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their monthly overview of the US employment situation and the data for March looks discouraging due to the impact of the coronavirus and the efforts to contain it. The labor department jobs report examines a range of US jobs data to gauge the overall health of the US economy, specifically the number of jobs added, the unemployment rate, and what industries are hiring now.
Before we get to the March jobs report, let’s revisit February’s US job numbers. Last month, the BLS reported that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 273,000 jobs. The unemployment changed little at 3.5% (approximately 5.8 million professionals). A deeper look at the US jobs data and industries hiring in 2020 showed promising growth in a few areas while others registered little change.
Due to the spread of the coronavirus, we saw drastic changes to employment numbers in March. However, the numbers in the March jobs report only show the early impacts of the virus, since they represent activity in the first half of the month. This predates many coronavirus-related business closures and other notable job activity that occurred in the second half of the month. We’ll see this activity and its impact on employment numbers reflected in the April jobs report.
The March jobs report showed total nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 701,000, unemployment increased by 0.9% to 4.4%, and the number of unemployed persons rose by 1.4 million to 7.1 million.
Here are some other highlights of the labor department jobs report:
March brought a steep decline in many industries hiring in 2020. We saw the greatest employment change in leisure and hospitality with 459,000 jobs lost, most of which came from food services and drinking places (-417,000 jobs). While many industries lost jobs, the federal government added 18,000 jobs since 17,000 workers were hired for the 2020 census. Here are the industries that were affected in March:
Key industries like manufacturing and mining also saw job loss (-18,000 and -6,000, respectively).
Overall, the labor department jobs report suggests that due to the impact of the coronavirus and efforts to contain it, the economy is in poor shape. To track employment numbers and the health of the economy, check back for our summary of the BLS April jobs report on May 8, 2020.
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