Friday, April 1, 2011

USA Unemployment Rate Drops to 8.8% (Charts) *Jobs growth +216K in March*


Bureau of Labor Statistics: Monthly Employment Situation Summary

Official Statement by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 216,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 8.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, health care, leisure and hospitality, and mining. Employment in manufacturing continued to trend up.

Unemployment Rate (Chart) Per the Household Survey Data, the unemployment rate (U-3) decreased to 8.8% (preliminary) in March and is the lowest since April 2009 (8.9%). The Great Recession peak was in October 2009 at 10.1%. Below is a chart of the unemployment rate (U-3) from that Great Recession peak in October 2009 through the latest month reported.

Total Unemployed (Chart) Per the Household Survey Data, the total unemployed decreased to 13.67 million in March and is the lowest since March 2009 (13.28 million). The Great Recession peak was in October 2009 at 15.63 million. Below is a chart of the total unemployed from that Great Recession peak in October 2009.

Total Nonfarm Employment Monthly Net Change (Chart) Per the Establishment Survey Data, total nonfarm employment increased +216,000 (preliminary) in March and is the highest since May 2010 (+458,000 attributable to hiring U.S. Census workers). The total  nonfarm  employment job losses peaked during the Great Recession at -820,000 in January 2009. The best jobs gain subsequently has been the +458,000 in May 2010. Below is a chart of the total nonfarm employment monthly net change from January 2008 through the latest month reported. Total nonfarm employment is private sector plus government sector jobs.

Commentary The March decrease in the Unemployment Rate (U-3) to 8.8% and the monthly increase (+216,000) in Total Nonfarm Employment is welcome news. There are both good and bad aspects to this data.

Postive "All the evidence is pointing to a strengthening labor market," said Bill Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock Financial Services in Boston.

Negative "It is always possible that as the job market improves, people will start looking again and the unemployment rate could go up," said John Hancocks Cheney. "But the normal pattern is once it starts coming down as rapidly as it has over the last few months, it keeps on going down."

*** Please note the unemployment rate is calculated by a household survey and the jobs data (increase or decrease) is calculated by an employer survey. The household survey includes self-employed and farm workers, the employer survey does not include these. Overall, the jobs data (employer survey) indicates insufficient jobs growth to decrease the unemployment rate (household survey). ***

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