March Unemployment at 4.5%; Businesses Claim To Create 89k New Jobs

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Businesses claimed to create a net of 89,000 new jobs, while governments reported adding 9,000 more, all in local schools, a separate survey shows.

The number of jobless declined by 326,000 in March, BLS said, to 7.2 million. The jobless rate declined by 0.2 percent. And the rate covering the jobless, those so discouraged they stopped seeking work and those employed part-time who really want full-time work dropped by 0.3 percent, to 8.9 percent of all workers, or one of every 11.

“The unemployment rate has been slowly but steadily declining since the depths of the Great Recession,” said Economic Policy Institute analyst Elise Gould. “But it still has a ways to go before we can safely say we are at full employment.”

The jobless rate “sat at roughly 4 percent for two years, 1999 and 2000, without provoking inflation,” she added.

Slow job growth spread through various occupations.

Factories added 11,000 jobs in March, to 11.39 million, but that still left 614,000 factory workers (3.9 percent) jobless. Half of new factory jobs were in fabricated metal products (+5,500 jobs), while cars and parts (+3,100) accounted for much of the rest.

Construction firms added 6,000 jobs, rising to 6.882 million. A large gain among non-residential specialty contractors (+7,300 jobs) canceled out losses elsewhere. But that still left 764,000 (8.4 percent) of construction workers jobless, a higher jobless rate than in any other large occupation.

Services added 61,000 jobs in March, far below normal. Gains were dragged down by a 29,700-job loss in retail trade. Virtually all was in general merchandise and department stores.

Big gainers in services included trucking (+4,700), temps (+10,500), janitors (+16,800), health care (+13,500) and bars and restaurants (+21,700). With 11.61 million jobs, bars and restaurants – the lowest-paying job sector – now employ more workers than factories do.