The U.S. economy added 431,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.
This number represents a decline from February, which saw an increase of a newly revised figure of 750,000 jobs, recently adjusted by 72,000 from the originally reported 678,000.
Notable job gains continued in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and manufacturing in February. Overall, job growth averaged 562,000 per month in the first quarter of 2022, the same as the average monthly gain for 2021. However, employment is down by 1.6 million, or 1.0 percent, from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.
Employment in retail trade increased by 49,000 in March, with gains in general merchandise stores (+20,000) and food and beverage stores (+18,000). Health and personal care stores lost 5,000 jobs. Retail trade employment is 278,000 above its level in February 2020.
As for unemployment, the number of people without a job decreased by 318,000 to 6 million in March. These measures are little different from their values in February 2020 (3.5% and 5.7 million, respectively) prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
In March, 2.5 million persons 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 4 weeks preceding the survey due to the pandemic. This measure is down from 4.2 million in the previous month.
The number of job leavers, or those who have voluntarily quit their jobs, fell by 176,000, to 787,000 in March.
The same report also showed that average hourly earnings rose by 13 cents to $31.73 in March, marking little change from the $31.58 in February. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 5.6%.