March Labor Update
The recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report on our nation’s Employment Situation showed great improvement. The labor market showed continued growth and progress towards reopening in March. Here is what you need to know about current employment rates and trends:
There were 916,000 nonfarm jobs added in March. The unemployment rate went down to 6.0 percent. These improvements in the labor market reflect the continued reopening of businesses and resumption of economic activity that had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The jobs added were in a wide range of industries, including some that had been heavily impacted by the pandemic.
The construction had a rough February, but in March 110,000 jobs were added.
This supports the prior theory that February’s decline in construction jobs was due to the extreme weather that occurred. Construction employment is still below pre-pandemic levels, but the industry appears to be moving towards recovery.
Within the construction industry, job growth occurred in three main labor segments; specialty trade contractors (65,000 jobs), heavy and civil engineering construction (27,000 jobs), and construction of buildings (18,000). The pandemic has also spawned a housing boom, which may spawn an increase in the construction and building of new housing developments.
Transportation and Warehousing
The transportation and warehousing industry also had a successful March. 48,000 jobs were added in March. Employment increased in the following segments; couriers and messengers (17,000 jobs), transit and ground passenger transportation (13,000 jobs), support activities for transportation (6,000 jobs), and air transportation (6,000 jobs).
Courier and Messenger employment is one of the few job segments that saw growth throughout the pandemic. However, air transportation and transit and ground passenger transportation both saw a sharp decline due to the pandemic, so the improvement is telling that the economy is reopening. In March, there was a decline in telecommuting, likely contributing to the increase in transit activity.
Professional and Business Services
Employment in professional and business services grew by 66,000 jobs in March. Over half of this growth occurred in administrative and support services (37,000 jobs). Smaller growth was seen in management and technical consulting services (8,000 jobs) and computer systems design and related services (6,000 jobs).
Temporary help services did not experience significant change in March. Temporary help services has been a strong segment of professional services throughout the pandemic. The shift towards hiring for permanent administrative roles indicates an improvement in business confidence.
Manufacturing employment increased by 53,000 jobs in March. However, employment in manufacturing is still down by 515,000 jobs since February 2020. The manufacturing industry has been hit hard due to the pandemic, but saw an increase in manufacturing jobs for both durable and non-durable goods.
The retail industry added 23,000 jobs in March. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the retail industry very hard, resulting in a lot of job losses over the past year. This increase does reflect positively on the regrowth of the economy.
However, there is a lot of variation in the job situation amongst the different segments of the retail industry. There was growth in some segments including clothing and clothing accessories stores (16,000 jobs), motor vehicle and parts dealers (13,000 jobs), and furniture and home furnishing stores (6,000 jobs). On the other hand , building material and garden
supply stores (-9,000 jobs) and general merchandise stores (-7,000) saw declines in employment.
Labor Market Growth
The upward trend in the labor market continued in March 2021. Construction rebounded after a tough winter, and retail is slowly reopening and rehiring. Significant job growth is anticipated as we head towards summer and widespread vaccine availability.
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