Total U.S. payroll employment edged up by 103,000 jobs in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday. The increase in employment for January was also revised down by the bureau from 239,000 to 176,000, and the increase for February was revised up from 313,000 to 326,000. With these revisions, employment gains in January and February combined were 50,000 less than previously reported.
Most of the sectors of the economy that affect commercial real estate absorption didn’t hire many more workers in March, including transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government. However, employment was up in professional and business services in March by 33,000, and has risen in that sector by 502,000 over the last 12 months.
Workers are earning a bit more than previously, the BLS also reported, which might be good news for retail sales. In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private payrolls rose by 8 cents to $26.82. During the last 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 71 cents, or 2.7 percent, which is a little ahead of inflation.
The headline unemployment rate was unchanged in March, coming in at 4.1 percent. A year ago, the rate was 4.5 percent. The more expansive definition of unemployment, which the BLS calls U-6 and which also includes people who are working part time but who want full-time jobs, was 8 percent in March, down from 8.2 percent in February and 8.8 percent a year ago.