Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 701,000 in March, and the unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to contain it. Employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 459,000, mainly in food services and drinking places. Notable declines also occurred in health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction.
This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics. The establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry. Note that the March survey reference periods for both surveys predated many coronavirus-related business and school closures that occurred in the second half of the month. For more information about the concepts and statistical methodology used in these two surveys, see the Technical Note.
Household Survey Data
In March, the unemployment rate increased by 0.9 percentage point to 4.4 percent. This is the largest over-the-month increase in the rate since January 1975, when the increase was also 0.9 percentage point. The number of unemployed persons rose by 1.4 million to 7.1 million in March. The sharp increases in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus and efforts to contain it. (See table A-1. Measures from the household survey pertain to the week of March 8th to March 14th.)
For more information about how the household survey and its measures were affected by the coronavirus, see the box note at the end of this news.
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