U.S. unemployment rate declines in March

April 1, 2005

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 110,000 in March, and the unemployment rate declined to 5.2 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Several industries added jobs over the month, including construction, mining, health care, and wholesale trade. Payroll employment has risen by 2.1 million over the year and by 3.1 million since its most recent trough in May 2003.

Within the goods-producing sector, construction employment rose by 26,000 in March, following a gain of similar magnitude in February. This industry has added 489,000 jobs since its most recent low in March 2003. Residential building and residential specialty trade contractors together accounted for 70 percent of the 2-year gain. Employment rose in mining for the fifth consecutive month. This industry has added 22,000 jobs since October 2004, mainly in support services for oil and gas operations.

Manufacturing employment was little changed (-8,000) in March. Small job losses occurred in textile mills (-2,000) and apparel (-5,000), as both industries continued to experience long-term job declines. The primary metals sector lost 4,000 jobs and the fabricated metals sector gained 5,100 jobs. Since last summer, manufacturing employment has declined slightly.

The manufacturing workweek declined by 0.1 hour to 40.5 hours. Manufacturing overtime fell by 0.2 hour over the month to 4.4 hours.

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