March Unemployment Report

March 2013
Unemployment Rate:             7.6 percent
Unemployed Americans:     11.7 million


“Real” Unemployment    

  • The “real” unemployment or U-6 rate is 13.8 percent for March 2013. This is the total percentage of unemployed and underemployed workers. 
  • The “real” number of unemployed Americans is 21.6 million. These are people who are unemployed (11.7 million), want work but have stopped searching for a job (2.3 million), or are working part time because they can’t find full time employment (7.6 million).

Labor Force Participation    

  • The labor force participation rate is 63.3 percent, a decrease of 0.2 compared to last month. If the labor force participation rate were the same as when the President took office, the unemployment rate would be 11.0 percent.
  • Of note, the civilian labor force declined by 496,000 over the month, and the labor force participation rate is now the lowest since May 1979. 

Employment    

  • The Department of Labor reported an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent for March 2013, a decrease of 0.1 percentage points, reporting an increase of 88,000 nonfarm jobs.
  • President Obama promised an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent by this time.
  • Concern has been raised that despite positive reports in other areas of the economy, job growth continues to remain sluggish. In 2012, the economy added an average of 262,000 jobs a month. In 2013, the economy has added an average of 168,000 jobs per month. 
  • Also raising concern, new claims for jobless benefits, an early indicator of layoff activity, have ticked up the past two weeks after trending downward earlier in the year.
  • Employment increased in professional and business services (+51,000), construction (+18,000) and health care (+23,000). Employment in retail trade declined (-24,000) and government declined (-7,000). Within government, U.S. Postal Service employment fell by nearly 12,000; state employment grew by 9,000. 
  • Information collected by the Federal Reserve indicates that health care reform continues to have an impact on hiring across the country. The Beige Book, which gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions from across the country, reported last month that employers in many Federal Reserve Bank districts cited the Affordable Care Act as reason for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff, in addition to restrained sales growth. Specifically, the Richmond Fed reported that employers in its area continue to cite the Affordable Care Act and its unknown impacts as reason for layoffs and reluctance to hire. The Dallas Fed reported concern that client companies are hiring the absolute minimum to get by due to uncertainty with the Affordable Care Act.
  • Today’s unemployment rate of 7.6 percent is the lowest monthly rate during the entire Obama Administration. The monthly unemployment rate has been hovering around 8 percent for his entire time in office, spiking as high as 10.0 percent in October 2009.

Weeks, Hours & Wages

  • The number of Americans searching for work for more than 27 weeks is 4.6 million. The average number of weeks a worker is unemployed is 37.1 weeks.
  • The average work week for private nonfarm employees increased by 0.1 hour to 34.6 hours.
  • The average hourly private nonfarm payroll increased by 1 cent to $23.82. Year over year hourly earnings have risen just 1.8 percent. Consumer Price Index is up 1.6 percent.