April 7, 2017

March 2017 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 4.5 percent

Jobs Created: 98,000

Employment and Unemployment

  1. The Department of Labor reported an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent for March, down 0.2 percent from last month.

  2. Today’s jobs report shows an increase of 98,000 nonfarm jobs in March, lower than analysts’ prediction of job growth of 175,000. Employment for January was revised down from 238,000 to 216,000 jobs created; and February was revised down from 235,000 to 219,000. Job growth for the first quarter of 2017 averaged nearly 178,000 per month, compared to nearly 148,000 for the last quarter of 2016.

  3. Unemployment in March among those ages 16-19 was 13.7 percent, down from 15.0 percent last month. For people of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, the unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, down 0.5 percentage point from February. For African-Americans, the unemployment rate was 8.0 percent, down 0.1 percentage point from the prior month.

  4. The number of long-term unemployed, those unemployed for 27 weeks or more, was 1.7 million, down from 1.8 million last month. They account for 23.3 percent of the unemployed, down from 23.8 percent in the prior month.

  5. The “real” unemployment or U-6 rate is 8.9 percent, down 0.3 percent from last month. This is the total percentage of unemployed and underemployed workers. This is the first time the U-6 rate have been lower than 9.0 percent since December 2007. 

  6. The “real” number of unemployed Americans is 14.4 million. These are people who are unemployed (7.2 million), want work but have stopped searching for a job (1.6 million), or are working part time because they cannot find full-time employment (5.6 million).  

  7. In March, employment grew by 56,000 in professional and business services; 14,000 in health care; 11,000 in mining; 9,000 in financial activities; and 6,000 in construction. Employment in retail trade fell by 30,000; and trade, transportation, and utilities lost 27,000 jobs last month. 

  8. Following its March 14-15 meeting, the Federal Reserve issued a statement stating: “Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in February indicates that the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has continued to expand at a moderate pace. Job gains remained solid and the unemployment rate was little changed in recent months … Inflation has increased in recent quarters, moving close to the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run objective … In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 3/4 to 1 percent.” 

  9. The March increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve was the third increase since June 2006.

  10. The Federal Reserve next meets May 2-3.    

Labor Force Participation

  1. The labor force participation rate is 63.0 percent, unchanged from last month and remaining near the lowest level in 38 years. 

  2. Despite the recent increase in the labor force participation rate, many workers remain on the sidelines. Since October 2013, the participation rate has largely been stuck in a narrow range of 62.5 to 63 percent. Prior to the recession, the rate was 66 percent. 

  3. The share of American adults with jobs in March was 60.1 percent, up 0.1 percentage point from last month. This is nearly 4 percentage points below its pre-recession peak. 


  1. In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 5 cents to $26.14, following a 7 cent increase in February. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.7 percent.

  2. As noted by the Wall Street Journal: “Wage gains had been accelerating in recent months amid increasing competition for workers. December’s 2.9 percent rise was the strongest since June 2009.”  

Issue Tag: Labor