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Unemployment in March 2011: U.S. and CA

The U.S. Employment Situation Summary by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was released on April 1 for March 2011, and the California report for March was released by the Employment Development Department on April 15.  In the U.S., nonfarm payroll employment increased by 216,000 and the unemployment rate was little changed at 8.8% (it was 8.9% in February). As for California,  the unemployment rate decreased to 12.0%, from a revised 12.1% in March, BUT nonfarm payroll jobs ACTUALLY DECLINED by 11,600! In March of 2010, U.S. unemployment was 9.7% and California unemployment was a revised 12.4% (originally reported as 12.6%).

In the country as a whole, the number of unemployed people (13.5 million) and the unemployment rate (8.8%) changed little in March. The labor force ALSO changed little over the month.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (8.6 percent), adult women (7.7 percent), teenagers (24.5 percent), whites (7.9 percent), blacks (15.5 percent), and Hispanics (11.3 percent) showed little change in March. The jobless rate for Asians was 7.1 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

The number of persons who were employed part-time for economic reasons (sometimes called “involuntary part-time workers,” was little changed at 8.4 million. These people worked part-time because their hours had been cut back or because they could not find full-time jobs.

In March, 2.4 million people were marginally attached to the workforce, up slightly from a year ago. These workers had not looked for work in the for weeks preceding the survey and included 921,000 discouraged workers who believe that no jobs are currently available for them. The remaining 1.5 million people had not searched for work in the four weeks before the survey for other reasons, such as school or family responsibilities.

For the entire U.S.:

“In March, employment in the service-providing sector continued to expand, led by a gain of 78,000 in professional and business services. Most of the gain occurred in temporary help services (+29,000) and in professional and technical services (+35,000).

Health care employment continued to increase in March (+37,000). Over the last 12 months, health care has added 283,000 jobs, or an average of 24,000 jobs per month.

Employment in leisure and hospitality rose by 37,000 over the month, with more than two-thirds of the increase in food services and drinking places (+27,000).

Manufacturing employment continued to trend up in March (+17,000). Job gains were concentrated in two durable goods industries–fabricated metal products (+8,000) and machinery (+5,000). Employment in durable goods manufacturing has risen by 243,000 since its most recent low in December 2009.

In March, employment in mining increased by 14,000, with much of the gain occurring in support activities for mining (+9,000).

Employment in local government continued to trend down over the month. Local government has lost 416,000 jobs since an employment peak in September 2008.”

As for California:

“Four categories (information; professional and business services; educational and health services; and government) added jobs over the month, gaining 9,100 jobs. Educational and health services posted the largest increase over the month, adding 5,100 jobs. Seven categories (mining and logging; construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; financial activities; leisure and hospitality; and other services) reported job declines this month, down 20,700 jobs.

In a year-over-year comparison (March 2010 to March 2011), nonfarm payroll employment in California increased by 188,100 jobs (up 1.4 percent).

Eight industry divisions (mining and logging; construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; professional and business services; educational and health services; and leisure and hospitality) posted job gains over the year, adding 235,900 jobs. Professional and business services posted the largest gain on a numerical basis, adding 83,800 jobs (up 4.1 percent). Information posted the largest gain on a percentage basis, up by 5.3 percent (an increase of 22,800 jobs).

Three categories (financial activities; other services; and government) posted job declines over the year, down 47,800 jobs. Government posted the largest decline on both a numerical and percentage basis, down by 42,500 jobs (a decrease of 1.7 percent).”

In California, there were 25 counties that reported greater than or equal to 15.0% unemployment, led by Colusa County with 26.7%. There were seven counties with over 20% unemployment!

-Bill at

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