Jobless rate declines in March as new economic data, labor force report help spark recovery
Posted On August 2, 2021
Unemployment has declined to 6.4% from 7.3% in March, according to a revised estimate released Thursday by the Labor Department.
The jobless rate remains below the post-recession low of 7.9%.
The jobless rates have declined since the start of the year, and the March numbers mark the second consecutive month in which jobless claims have declined, following a 2.5% decline in February.
The rate has declined in nearly every month since the beginning of the recession in January 2009, but in March it reached its lowest point since March 2009, when it stood at 8.7%.
The decline in unemployment over the past year has been fueled in part by a sharp drop in the number of people actively seeking work.
The number of jobless people in March was about the same as it was in March 2013, and it is at its lowest level since the recession began in 2009.
The labor force participation rate, the percentage of the labor force that is working but not actively seeking a job, remained steady at 64.6% in the first three months of this year, according a measure of the participation of people who are employed and looking for work.
This compares with 64.7% in January, 65.1% in February, and 67.1%, a measure taken before the pandemic began.
Still, the unemployment rate fell in February to 6% from 6.3%.
The labor force has continued to decline as employers cut back on hiring.
The share of people working part-time or part-year dropped to 13.4 million from 15.3 million, and some part-timers and others have found it more difficult to find full-time work.
This has been a slow decline in employment that is more significant than the rate of job growth.
Despite the declines, labor participation still shows signs of recovery in most major sectors of the economy.
More people are working, on average, than they were a year ago, and more people are looking for jobs than they have in years, according the survey.
Incomes have increased for the first time since the Great Recession.
In March, the median income of households was $76,000, a slight increase from $69,000 a year earlier.
“The economic recovery is on track to return to full employment within months and wages to rise again, given that the jobless recovery is well underway,” said Larry Mishel, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.