The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the unemployment rate fell 0.1%, as projected, to reach 8.2% for the month of March. But payroll employment rose by just 120,000 leaving 12.7 million people unemployed. Analysts had expected job growth to be in the 200K range, as Automated Data Processing reported on Wednesday.
The White House stated that the report showed “further evidence that the economy is continuing to recover.”
Despite the positive spin by the Executive Branch, there are still 2.4 million people who are marginally attached to the labor force, and they are not included in the jobless count. Why? They haven’t searched for a position in the four weeks leading up to the report. The BLS numbers show that the number of marginally-attached has barely budged since March 2011.
An additional 2.3 million people are either not searching for a job because they are “discouraged” or are focusing on school or family obligations. This group is also not included in the monthly unemployment report.
If the official monthly jobless report included marginally attached workers, the unemployment rate would be 11.2% or 17.4 million unemployed.
Of the 12.7 million unemployed Americans, 5.3 million of them are long-term unemployed, those being unemployed for at least a year. The upside is that the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 1.4 million since April 2010.
Possibly the best sign for the month of March is the decrease of 400,000 involuntary part-time workers – also known as underemployed. This number is now at 7.7 million after having reached 9.3 million in September of 2011.
For March, there were increases in several industries: manufacturing (+37,000); leisure and hospitality (+37,000); professional and business services (+31,000); health care (+26,000); financial services (+15,000). The industry on the decline was retail trade (-34,000).
The total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from +284,000 to +275,000, but February was revised from +227,000 to +240,000.
-Dustin Bass, @dbass_cmn