Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release

Transmission of material in this statement is embargoed until 
8:30 a.m. (ET) April 2, 2021.

                            Statement of

                          William W. Beach
                     Bureau of Labor Statistics

                       Friday, April 2, 2021

      Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 916,000 in March, and 
the unemployment rate edged down to 6.0 percent. These 
improvements in the labor market reflect the continued 
resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to 
the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Job growth was widespread, 
led by gains in leisure and hospitality, public and private 
education, and construction.
      Substantial job losses related to the pandemic first 
occurred in March (-1.7 million) and April (-20.7 million) of 
2020. As economic activity resumed, employment increased by 12.6 
million from May through November but declined again in December 
(-306,000) following a surge in the number of coronavirus cases. 
Job growth restarted in January of this year, and nonfarm 
payroll employment has increased by 1.6 million over the past 3 
months. However, payroll employment is down by 8.4 million, or 
5.5 percent, from the pre-pandemic employment peak in February 
      Employment in leisure and hospitality rose by 280,000 in 
March and by 384,000 in the prior month, as pandemic-related 
restrictions continued to ease in many parts of the country. 
Within the industry, job growth in food services and drinking 
places (+176,000) accounted for almost two-thirds of the March 
increase. Employment also rose in arts, entertainment, and 
recreation (+64,000) and accommodation (+40,000). Employment in 
leisure and hospitality is down by 3.1 million, or 18.5 percent, 
since February 2020.
      In March, employment increased in both public and private 
education, reflecting the continued resumption of in-person 
learning and other school-related activities in many parts of 
the country. Local government education added 76,000 jobs, state 
government education added 50,000 jobs, and private education 
added 64,000 jobs. Since February 2020, employment is down in 
local government education (-594,000), state government 
education (-270,000), and private education (-310,000).
      Construction employment increased by 110,000 in March, 
following a loss in the previous month (-56,000) that was likely 
weather-related. In March, job gains occurred in specialty trade 
contractors (+65,000), heavy and civil engineering construction 
(+27,000), and construction of buildings (+18,000). Employment 
in construction is down by 182,000 since February 2020.
      Professional and business services added 66,000 jobs in 
March. Employment in administrative and support services 
continued to trend up (+37,000), though employment in its 
temporary help services component, which had risen in recent 
months, was essentially unchanged in March. Over the month, 
employment also continued to trend up in management and 
technical consulting services (+8,000) and computer systems 
design and related services (+6,000). Since February 2020, 
employment in professional and business services is down by 
      Employment in manufacturing rose by 53,000 over the month, 
with job gains in both the durable goods (+30,000) and 
nondurable goods (+23,000) components. Manufacturing employment 
is down by 515,000 since February 2020.
      Transportation and warehousing added 48,000 jobs in March, 
with employment increases in couriers and messengers (+17,000), 
transit and ground passenger transportation (+13,000), support 
activities for transportation (+6,000), and air transportation 
(+6,000). Since February 2020, employment in couriers and 
messengers is up by 206,000, while employment is down by 112,000 
in transit and ground passenger transportation and by 104,000 in 
air transportation. Overall, employment in transportation and 
warehousing is 66,000 lower than in February 2020.
      Employment in the other services industry increased by 
42,000 in March but is down by 396,000 since February 2020. Over 
the month, job gains occurred in personal and laundry services 
(+19,000) and in repair and maintenance (+18,000).
      Social assistance added 25,000 jobs in March, with most of 
the gain in individual and family services (+20,000). Employment 
in social assistance is 306,000 lower than the peak in February 
      Employment in wholesale trade rose by 24,000 in March, with 
gains in both the durable and nondurable goods components 
(+14,000 and +10,000, respectively). Wholesale trade employment 
is 234,000 below the February 2020 level.
      Retail trade employment increased by 23,000 in March. Job 
gains in clothing and accessories stores (+16,000), motor 
vehicle and parts dealers (+13,000), and furniture and home 
furnishings stores (+6,000) were partially offset by job losses 
in building material and garden supply stores (-9,000) and 
general merchandise stores (-7,000). Although retail employment 
has trended up since April, it is 381,000 lower than in February 
      In March, mining employment rose by 21,000, mostly in 
support activities for mining (+19,000). Mining employment is 
down by 130,000 since a peak in January 2019.
      Financial activities added 16,000 jobs in March, with gains 
in insurance carriers and related activities (+11,000) and real 
estate (+10,000) more than offsetting a loss in credit 
intermediation (-7,000). Employment in financial activities is 
87,000 below its level in February 2020.
       Employment changed little in health care in March but is 
down by 557,000 since February 2020. 
      In March, employment was essentially unchanged in 
information. Employment in the industry is 241,000 lower than in 
February 2020.
      Average weekly hours for all private-sector workers 
increased by 0.3 hour in March to 34.9 hours, following a 
decline of 0.4 hour in the previous month. In March, the average 
workweek for manufacturing increased by 0.2 hour to 40.5 hours.
      Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm 
payrolls decreased by 4 cents to $29.96 in March. One should 
continue to use caution when interpreting changes in average 
hourly earnings during the pandemic, as large shifts in the 
industry composition of employment can complicate monthly 
      Turning to the labor market indicators from the household 
survey, the unemployment rate edged down to 6.0 percent in 
March. The rate is down considerably from its recent high in 
April 2020 but is 2.5 percentage points higher than its pre-
pandemic level in February 2020. The number of unemployed 
people, at 9.7 million, continued to trend down in March but is 
4.0 million higher than in February 2020.
      Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for 
Asians increased to 6.0 percent in March, following a decrease 
in the previous month. The jobless rate for Hispanics edged down 
to 7.9 percent over the month, while the rates changed little 
for adult men (5.8 percent), adult women (5.7 percent), 
teenagers (13.0 percent), Whites (5.4 percent), and Blacks (9.6 
      Among the unemployed, the number of people on temporary 
layoff declined by 203,000 in March to 2.0 million. This measure 
is down considerably from the recent high of 18.0 million in 
April 2020 but is 1.3 million higher than in February 2020. The 
number of permanent job losers, at 3.4 million, was little 
changed in March but is 2.1 million higher than February 2020.
      By duration of unemployment, the number of people searching 
for work for less than 5 weeks was essentially unchanged in 
March at 2.2 million. The number of people unemployed for 5 to 
14 weeks declined by 313,000 to 1.9 million. The number of 
people unemployed for 27 weeks or more (often referred to as the 
long-term unemployed), at 4.2 million, was little changed over 
the month but is up by 3.1 million since February 2020. In 
March, the long-term unemployed accounted for 43.4 percent of 
the unemployed.
      The labor force participation rate changed little at 61.5 
percent in March. This measure is 1.8 percentage points lower 
than in February 2020. The employment-population ratio, at 57.8 
percent, was up by 0.2 percentage point over the month but is 
3.3 percentage points lower than in February 2020.
      In March, 5.8 million people were working part time for 
economic reasons, little changed from the previous month. The 
number of people affected by this type of underemployment is 
down from a peak of 10.9 million in April 2020 but is 1.4 
million higher than in February 2020.
      At 6.9 million, the number of people not in the labor force 
who currently want a job was about unchanged in March. Among 
those who were not in the labor force but wanted a job, the 
number of people marginally attached to the labor force was 
essentially unchanged at 1.9 million. (People who are marginally 
attached to the labor force had not actively looked for work in 
the 4 weeks prior to the survey but had looked for a job within 
the last 12 months.) The number of discouraged workers, a subset 
of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were 
available for them, was essentially unchanged over the month at 
      As in previous months, some workers affected by the 
pandemic who should have been classified as unemployed on 
temporary layoff in March were instead misclassified as employed 
but not at work. Since March 2020, BLS has published an estimate 
of what the unemployment rate would have been had misclassified 
workers been included among the unemployed. Repeating this same 
approach, the seasonally adjusted March unemployment rate would 
have been 0.4 percentage point higher than reported. Additional 
information about the misclassification, as well as information 
about response rates for both the household and establishment 
surveys, is available on the BLS website at
      Looking at supplemental pandemic-related measures from the 
household survey (these supplemental data are not seasonally 
adjusted), the share of employed people who teleworked in March 
because of the coronavirus pandemic declined to 21.0 percent. 
These data refer only to employed people who teleworked or worked
at home for pay at some point in the last 4 weeks specifically 
because of the pandemic; they do not include all instances of 

      In March, the number of people who reported that they had 
been unable to work because their employer closed or lost 
business due to the pandemic--that is, they did not work at all 
or worked fewer hours at some point in the last 4 weeks due to 
the pandemic--decreased to 11.4 million. Among those who 
reported in March that they were unable to work because of 
pandemic-related closures or lost business, 10.2 percent 
received at least some pay from their employer for the hours not 
worked, little changed from the prior month.
      Among those not in the labor force in March, 3.7 million 
people were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic, 
down from 4.2 million in the prior month. (To be counted as 
unemployed, by definition, individuals must either be actively 
searching for work or on temporary layoff.)
      In summary, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 
916,000 in March, and the unemployment rate edged down to 6.0 

Last Modified Date: April 02, 2021