The U.S. unemployment rate is at its lowest figure in nearly 10 years. The rate dropped to 4.5% in March from 4.7% in February, according to the latest release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The unemployment rate is also the lowest it has been since May 2007, when it was at 4.4%. The rate has been under 5% for 11 months straight. On a year-over-year basis, the unemployment rate was down half a percentage point.
Total nonfarm employment increased by 98,000 jobs in March after increasing by 435,000 jobs in January and February. There were an additional 6,000 construction jobs in March compared to 59,000 new jobs in February. This was the lowest increase in construction jobs in seven months, according to the Associated Press. This is likely in part to the warmer-than-normal weather in February across the country.
“Employment in construction has been trending up since late last summer, largely among specialty trade contractors and in residential building,” BLS said. Meanwhile, manufacturing and wholesale trade were among the other major industries with little or no change in March. Construction unemployment was down to 8.4% last month compared to 8.7% a year ago, and the number of unemployed workers was down 4,000.
As much as better-than-usual weather in February is to be credited for job gains, less-than-favorable weather was a factor for the swing and miss on growth in March. It was expected the economy would add 180,000 jobs with an unchanged unemployment rate, according to economists polled by Reuters. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg also expected an increase of 180,000 jobs.
– Michael Miller, editorial associate