Despite rising prices and fears of an approaching recession, the United States' economy added 431,000 jobs in March, slightly fewer than predicted as the labor market tightened.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that nonfarm payrolls increased by 431,000 for the month, while the unemployment rate remained at 3.6 percent. Dow Jones polled economists, who predicted 490,000 people on payrolls and 3.7 percent unemployment.
Unemployment among discouraged workers and those working part-time for economic reasons fell to a seasonally adjusted 6.9%, down 0.3 percentage points from the previous month.
The changes in the unemployment statistics came as the labor force participation rate rose by a tenth of a percentage point to 62.4 percent, bringing it within one point of its pre-pandemic level in February 2020. The labor force increased by 418,000 workers, bringing it within 174,000 workers of its pre-pandemic level.
Average hourly wages, a frequently monitored inflation indicator, gained 0.4 percent month over month, as expected. On a 12-month basis, compensation increased by approximately 5.6 percent, which was somewhat higher than expected. The average workweek fell by 0.1 hours to 34.6 hours, which has an impact on production.
"Overall, there's nothing shocking in this report. "There was nothing really startling," said Simona Mocuta, State Street Global Advisors' head economist. "Even if this data came in at zero, I would still say the job market is in excellent shape."
Leisure and hospitality, as has been the case for much of the Covid pandemic era, led to job creation with 112,000 new jobs.
Professional and business services contributed 102,000 to the total, while retail and manufacturing both increased by 49,000 and 38,000, respectively. Social assistance (25,000), construction (19,000), and financial activities were among the other industries that recorded gains (16,000).
The home survey revealed an even more upbeat picture, with a total gain of 736,000 jobs. This increased total employment to within 408,000 of its pre-pandemic level.
Revisions from previous months were likewise impressive. The number for January increased by 23,000 to 504,000, and the total for February was revised up to 750,000 from the previous count of 678,000. Job creation totaled 1.685 million in the first quarter, an average of approximately 562,000 per month.
Individually, the Black unemployment rate plummeted 0.4 percentage points to 6.2 percent, while Asian unemployment fell to 2.8 percent and Hispanic unemployment fell to 4.2 percent.