For Immediate Release
Statement: Chad Stone, Chief Economist, on the March Employment Report
WASHINGTON - Today's jobs report provides further evidence that the labor market
has stabilized after experiencing its most severe jobs decline since the
1930s. Job losses slowed dramatically after President
Obama and Congress enacted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in
February 2009, and the growth in payroll employment in
March 2010 is welcome news (see chart). Indeed, employers have added
117,000 jobs over the past five months, the report shows,
which stands in marked contrast to the 3.7 million job loss over the
same period a year earlier.
Before breaking out the champagne,
however, we should understand that special factors, including temporary
hiring for the 2010 census, were important contributors to
the March gains. Moreover, we need much stronger job growth than we
have yet seen over a sustained period to reduce the
unemployment rate and erase the huge jobs deficit that remains the
legacy of the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression.
That is why it is so disappointing that Congress has allowed the
Recovery Act measures providing extra weeks of unemployment insurance
(UI) and subsidized COBRA health insurance coverage for
unemployed workers to lapse and has failed to pass a meaningful jobs
bill that would provide a needed boost to the nascent
economic recovery. Extending the Recovery Act's UI and COBRA provisions
to the end of the year and providing additional fiscal
assistance to cash-strapped states - two critical provisions in the
pending congressional jobs bills - are widely recognized as
highly effective ways to boost economic activity and create jobs.
Congress should act quickly to pass legislation that includes those
measures. They will help workers struggling to find a job
and in danger of losing their UI benefits, and they will help the
About the March Jobs Report
While the labor market has stabilized after a long
deterioration, there are many more people looking for work than there
are new jobs being created and the job market is still
- Private and government payrolls rose by
162,000 jobs in March, with 48,000 of those jobs coming from temporary
government hiring for the decennial census. Private-sector
payrolls rose by 123,000 jobs. Some of the March job growth may also
reflect a rebound from the temporary effects of severe winter
weather in suppressing job growth in February. Despite the gains in
March, net job losses since the recession began in December 2007
total 8.2 million. (Private-sector payrolls have shrunk by 8.3 million
jobs over the period.)
- Revisions to the data show that
the economy added rather than lost jobs in January and that February's
job losses were smaller than previously reported. Over the past
five months, employers have added a net 117,000 jobs to their payrolls,
compared with a loss of 3.7 million jobs over the same period a
- For the third straight month, the
unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent, 4.7 percentage points higher
than at the start of the recession.
- For the third straight
month, more people entered the labor force than left it; the labor
force participation rate (the percentage of people with a job or
actively looking for a job) edged up to 64.9 percent in March. The
combination of an increase in labor force participation and a steady
unemployment rate resulted in a slight rise in the percentage of
the population with a job, from 58.5 percent to 58.6 percent.
Nevertheless, both the labor force participation rate and the
percentage of the population with a job remain near lows that were last
seen in 1986 and 1983, respectively.
- The Labor
Department's most comprehensive alternative unemployment rate measure -
which includes people who want to work but are discouraged from
looking and people working part time because they can't find full-time
jobs - edged up to 16.9 percent in March. While that figure is below
the peak of 17.4 percent reached in October 2009, it is still
- Long-term unemployment remains a significant
concern. Over two-fifths (44.1 percent) of the 15.0 million people who
are unemployed have been looking for work for 27 weeks or
longer. These long-term unemployed represent 4.3 percent of the labor
force, a higher percentage than at any point in the past six
decades (the next highest was 2.6 percent in June 1983).
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