Employment Rises by 431,000 in March 2022

Job gains in January and February also revised upward by 95,000 in total

The U.S. economy added 431,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in March 2022, as the unemployment rate dropped to 3.6%. "Notable" job gains continued in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and manufacturing. Also, job gains in January and February were revised upward by a total of 95,000.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecasted job growth of 490,000 in March, with the unemployment rate edging downward from 3.8% in February to 3.7% in March. Additionally, these economists expected wage growth to accelerate in March. They forecast a month-to-month increase of 0.4% in March (versus 0.0% in February) and a year-over-year increase of 5.5% (versus 5.1% in February). The actuals for March were 0.4% and 5.6%, respectively.

Key Takeaways

  • The U.S. economy added 431,000 new jobs in March 2022.
  • The was 12.0% below the estimates.
  • The unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, better than the estimate of 3.7%.
  • Average hourly wages rose by 0.4% from February and by 5.6% year over year, in line with the estimates.
  • Job gains for January-February were revised upward by 95,000.

Large Upward Revision for January-February

The job gain for January 2022 was revised upward by 23,000, from 481,000 to 504,000. The gain for February also was revised upward, by 72,000, from 678,000 to 750,000. The report explains: "Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors."

Unemployment Rate Declines

The unemployment rate in March 2022 of 3.6% was down from 3.8% in February, while the number of unemployed persons dropped by 318,000 to 6.0 million. In February 2020, prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate was 3.5%, and the number of unemployed persons was 5.7 million.

Temporary Layoffs Stable, Permanent Job Losses Down

Among the unemployed, those on temporary layoff were 787,000 March 2022, little changed over the month. Permanent job losers numbered 1.4 million in March 2022, down by 191,000 from February. The pre-pandemic figures in February 2020 were 780,000 and 1.3 million, respectively.

Long-Term Unemployment Falls

The number of long-term unemployed (people who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined by 274,000 to 1.4 million in March. However, it is 307,000 higher than the pre-pandemic measure in February 2020. The long-term unemployed represented 23.9% of the total number of unemployed in March 2022.

Labor Force Participation Up Marginally

The labor force participation rate in March was 62.4%, up from 62.3% in February. The employment-to-population ratio also rose slightly, from 59.9% to 60.1%. The pre-pandemic figures in February 2020 were 63.4% and 61.2%, respectively.

Number of Potential Job Seekers Rises

The number of persons who were not in the labor force but who would like to take a job rose by 382,000 to 5.7 million in March 2022. This figure was 5.0 million in February 2020. These people were not classified as unemployed since they either were not actively looking for work during the four weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job. The number of discouraged workers, those who believed that no jobs were available for them, fell from 391,000 in February to 373,000 in March.

Earnings Up, Working Hours Down

In March 2022, the average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by just 13 cents (0.4%) to $31.73. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 5.6%.

Meanwhile, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls fell by 0.1 hour to 34.6 hours in March. In manufacturing, the average workweek was unchanged at 40.7 hours, and overtime fell by 0.1 hour to 3.4 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls dropped by 0.1 hour to 34.1 hours.

Biggest Job Gains by Industry

The biggest job gains for March 2022 were concentrated in these industries: leisure and hospitality (+112,000 jobs), professional and business services (+102,000), retail trade (+49,000), manufacturing (+38,000), social assistance (+25,000), construction (+19,000), financial activities (+16,000), and healthcare (+8,000). These industries combined to add 369,000 jobs, or 85.6% of the March total of 431,000.

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  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Employment Situation Summary."

  2. Yahoo Finance. "March Jobs Report Preview: Payrolls Expected to Rise 490,000 as Employment Inches Closer to Pre-Pandemic Levels."

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