Unemployment Falls to 3.6 Percent as Recovery Continues

April 1, 2022 – Employment rose by 431,000 in February as the U.S. unemployment rate edged up to 3.6 percent, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Notable job gains continued in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and manufacturing. The unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 3.6 percent in March, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 318,000 to 6.0 million. These measures are little different from their values in February 2020 (3.5 percent and 5.7 million, respectively), prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult women (3.3 percent) declined in March. The jobless rates for adult men (3.4 percent), teenagers (10.0 percent), Whites (3.2 percent), Blacks (6.2 percent), Asians (2.8 percent), and Hispanics (4.2 percent) showed little change over the month.

Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers decreased by 191,000 to 1.4 million in March and is little different from its February 2020 level of 1.3 million. The number of persons on temporary layoff was little changed over the month at 787,000 and has essentially returned to its February 2020 level. The number of job leavers—that is, unemployed persons who quit or voluntarily left their previous job and began looking for new employment—fell by 176,000 to 787,000 in March.

“The job market is red hot with high employer demand and is continually driving healthy job gains,” said Daniel Zhao Glassdoor’s senior economist. “The American economy is in a very difficult position now, with high risk factors accumulating, but today’s jobs report shows a resilience of recovery, and a confidence in continuing to see healthy job growth.”

Where Job Growth Occurred

  • Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to increase, with a gain of 112,000 in March. Job growth occurred in food services and drinking places (+61,000) and accommodation (+25,000). Employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 1.5 million, or 8.7 percent, since February 2020.
  • Job growth continued in professional and business services, which added 102,000 jobs in March. Within the industry, job gains occurred in services to buildings and dwellings (+22,000), accounting and bookkeeping services (+18,000), management and technical consulting services (+15,000), computer systems design and related services (+12,000), and scientific research and development services (+5,000).
  • Employment in professional and business services is 723,000 higher than in February 2020. Employment in retail trade increased by 49,000 in March, with gains in general merchandise stores (+20,000) and food and beverage stores (+18,000). Health and personal care stores lost 5,000 jobs. Retail trade employment is 278,000 above its level in February 2020.
  • Manufacturing added 38,000 jobs in March. Employment in durable goods industries rose by 22,000, with gains in transportation equipment (+11,000) and electrical equipment and appliances (+4,000). These gains were partially offset by a loss of 5,000 jobs in nonmetallic mineral products. Nondurable goods manufacturing added 16,000 jobs over the month, including a gain in chemicals (+7,000). Since February 2020, manufacturing employment is down by 128,000, or 1.0 percent.
  • Employment in social assistance increased by 25,000 in March, with the gain concentrated in individual and family services (+18,000). Employment in social assistance is down by 126,000, or 2.9 percent, from its level in February 2020.
  • Employment in construction continued to trend up in March (+19,000) and has returned to its February 2020 level.
  • In March, employment in financial activities rose by 16,000, with gains in real estate and rental and leasing (+14,000) and in securities, commodity contracts, and investments (+5,000). Employment in financial activities is 41,000 above its level in February 2020.
  • Healthcare employment changed little in March (+8,000), after a large increase in the prior month. Employment in the industry is down by 298,000, or 1.8 percent, since February 2020.

Related: 5 Actions Business Leaders Can Take as War In Ukraine Deepens

  • Employment in transportation and warehousing was essentially unchanged in March (-1,000), following large gains in the prior two months. In March, a job gain in couriers and messengers (+7,000) was offset by small losses in other component industries. Employment in transportation and warehousing is 608,000 higher than in February 2020.
  • Employment showed little change over the month in mining, wholesale trade, information, other services, and government.

Hiring Outlook

Strong hiring optimism continues into the second quarter of 2022, according to the Q2 ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey of 41,000 employers. Employers in 36 of 40 countries report stronger hiring intentions than this time last year with greatest demand in IT, finance, and manufacturing. Demand for skilled workers remains at record highs as employers seek to attract and retain the best, diverse talent as employers embrace the post-pandemic era.

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“Labor markets around the world are looking strong for Q2, with hiring outlooks back at pre-pandemic levels in most countries,” said Jonas Prising, chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup. “Any impact of the Ukraine crisis is not reflected in employer hiring intentions. While Poland and neighboring countries are dealing with the humanitarian crisis, we must be poised to help resettlement and employment efforts for refugees, adapting roles and requirements to fill vacancies and create new opportunities.”

“At ManpowerGroup we are working fast to leverage our experience integrating refugees into labor markets from other countries – for example from Syria to Germany, Afghanistan to U.S. – and to adapt and scale reskilling and upskilling programs specifically targeted to this population,” said Mr. Prising. “Now is the time for collaboration between employers and governments to make it as fast and simple as possible to integrate refugees into the workforce so they can earn a living, contribute to society, and most importantly feel welcomed in their new surroundings.”

Related: Major Paradigm Shifts Coming Out of the Coronavirus Crisis

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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