Friday, April 5, 2013

U.S. Labor Participation Rate Lowest Since 1979

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The civilian labor force declined by 496,000 from February to March, and the labor force participation rate decreased by 0.2 percentage point to 63.3%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  March's labor force participation rate is the lowest since the economic stagflation days of 1979.  




The labor participation rate remained above 66% during the boom years of 2003 through 2008, but has steadily declined by about a .5 percentage point every year since 2008.


Both the number of unemployed persons, at 11.7 million, and the unemployment rate, at 7.6 percent, were little changed in March.


Involuntary Part Time Workers



The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) fell by 350,000 over the month to 7.6 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.  

Marginally-Attached Workers

In March, 2.3 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. 


Among the marginally attached, there were 803,000 discouraged workers in March, little changed from a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.


Unemployment By Major Worker Groups

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (6.9 percent), adult women (7.0 percent), teenagers (24.2 percent), whites (6.7 percent), blacks (13.3 percent), and Hispanics (9.2 percent) showed little or no change in March. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.0 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier. 


In March, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 4.6 million. These individuals accounted for 39.6 percent of the unemployed. 


Average Work Week and Hourly Earnings 


The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour to 34.6 hours. The manufacturing workweek decreased by 0.1 hour to 40.8 hours, and factory overtime rose by 0.1 hour to 3.4 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.8 hours. 


In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls, at $23.82, changed little (+1 cent). Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 42 cents, or 1.8 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees, at $20.03, changed little (-1 cent) in March.


Jobs By Industry Sector

Professional and business services added 51,000 jobs in March. Over the past 12 months, employment in this industry has grown by 533,000. Within professional and business services, accounting and bookkeeping services added 11,000 jobs over the month, and employment continued to trend up in temporary help services and in several other component industries. 


Job growth in health care continued in March, with a gain of 23,000, similar to the prior 12-month average. Within health care, employment increased by 15,000 in ambulatory health care services, such as home health care, and by 8,000 in hospitals. 


Construction employment continued to trend up in March (+18,000). Job growth in this industry picked up this past fall; since September, the industry has added 169,000 jobs. In March, employment continued to expand among specialty trade contractors (+23,000). Employment in specialty trade contractors has increased by 128,000 since September, with the gain about equally split between the residential and nonresidential components. 


Within leisure and hospitality, employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up in March (+13,000). Over the past year, the industry added 262,000 jobs. 


In March, retail trade employment declined by 24,000. The industry had added an average of 32,000 jobs per month over the prior 6 months. In March, job declines occurred in clothing and clothing accessories stores (-15,000), building material and garden supply stores (-10,000), and electronics and appliance stores (-6,000). 


Within government, U.S. Postal Service employment fell by 12,000 in March. Employment in other major industries, including mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, state government, and local government, showed little change over the month.