Unemployment Rate Holds Steady at 3.5 Percent

April 7, 2023 – Employment rose by 236,000 in March as the U.S. unemployment rate stands at 3.5 percent, according to today’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The number of unemployed persons is 5.8 million in March. Employment continued to trend up in leisure and hospitality, government, professional and business services, and healthcare.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Hispanics decreased to 4.6 percent in March, essentially offsetting an increase in the prior month. The unemployment rates for adult men (3.4 percent), adult women (3.1 percent), teenagers (9.8 percent), Whites (3.2 percent), Blacks (5.0 percent), and Asians (2.8 percent) showed little or no change over the month.

Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers increased by 172,000 to 1.6 million in March, and the number of reentrants to the labor force declined by 182,000 to 1.7 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.1 million in March. These individuals accounted for 18.9 percent of all unemployed persons.

“The 236,000 gain in non-farm payrolls in March adds to the evidence that the economy’s strong start to the year was partly a weather-related blip, with momentum now fading again,” said Andrew Hunter, deputy chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

“With the sharp fall in job openings and upward trend in jobless claims also pointing to a cooling in labor demand, and the drag from the recent banking turmoil still to feed through, we expect employment growth to slow more sharply soon.”

“Now, job growth is becoming more narrowly concentrated in fewer industries, and a growing number of industries are shedding jobs,” said Sinem Buber, lead economist at ZipRecruiter. “The slowdown in interest rate-sensitive industries is spilling over into the rest of the economy.”

Where Job Growth Occurred

• Leisure and hospitality added 72,000 jobs in March, lower than the average monthly gain of 95,000 over the prior 6 months. Most of the job growth occurred in food services and drinking places, where employment rose by 50,000 in March. Employment in leisure and hospitality is below its pre-pandemic February 2020 level by 368,000, or 2.2 percent.

• Government employment increased by 47,000 in March, the same as the average monthly gain over the prior 6 months. Overall, employment in government is below its February 2020 level by 314,000, or 1.4 percent.

Executive Hiring Predictions for 2023
With market uncertainty on the minds of senior executives as we move into the new year, ON Partners recently asked its consultants to offer predictions and insights about the executive jobs they expect to be in demand in 2023. The past few years have seen one of the most volatile business environments in memory. Political, social, economic, health, and regulatory factors combined to form the perfect storm, creating a turbulent path for boards and those in the C-suite to navigate. According to ON consultants, embracing transformation in an uncertain landscape, continued digital transformation efforts, and building strong financial organizations are among the key factors expected to drive executive hiring in the coming year.

• Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in March (+39,000), in line with the average monthly growth over the prior 6 months (+34,000). Within the industry, employment in professional, scientific, and technical services continued its upward trend in March (+26,000).

• Over the month, healthcare added 34,000 jobs, lower than the average monthly gain of 54,000 over the prior 6 months. In March, job growth occurred in home healthcare services (+15,000) and hospitals (+11,000). Employment continued to trend up in nursing and residential care facilities (+8,000).

• Employment in social assistance continued to trend up in March (+17,000), in line with the average monthly growth over the prior 6 months (+22,000).

• In March, employment in transportation and warehousing changed little (+10,000). Couriers and messengers (+7,000) and air transportation (+6,000) added jobs, while warehousing and storage lost jobs (-12,000). Employment in transportation and warehousing has shown little net change in recent months.

• Employment in retail trade changed little in March (-15,000). Job losses in building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-9,000) and in furniture, home furnishings, electronics, and appliance retailers (-9,000) were partially offset by a job gain in department stores (+15,000). Retail trade employment is little changed on net over the year.

• Employment showed little change over the month in other major industries, including mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; construction; manufacturing; wholesale trade; information; financial activities; and other services.

Related: Talent Shortages Reach Highest Levels in 16 Years 

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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