The latest Labor Department job numbers confirm what was painfully evident and widely reported, the unemployment numbers have leaped in the midst of the COVID-19 (Wuhan) pandemic in March with a DECREASE of 701,000 jobs for the month. (It is generally accepted that a range of approximately 130-150,000 new jobs per month are needed just to absorb the expanding demographics in the nation). Construction non-seasonally adjusted figures were also hit by the downturn with unemployment climbing to 6.9 percent [a jump of 1.4 basis points above February, and up 1.7 basis points from a year ago in March 2019 when it stood at only 5.2%]. In March 2020, employment in the construction industry contracted by some 29,000 positions. [Over the prior 12-months, it had expanded by 211,000].
The overall unemployment figure surged to 4.4 percent, up 0.9 basis points in a month. (“Unemployed persons” also spiked 1.4 million to a total of 7.1 million per the government count). Conversely, the “labor force participation” rate tumbled down 0.7 basis points to 62.7 percent. [NOTE: The “labor force participation” rate works inversely to the overall unemployment figures. Meaning: as it deteriorates/gets worse or smaller, it actually is counted as improving unemployment (i.e., people leaving the workforce are no longer viewed/counted as unemployed by the DOL)]. The “employment to population ratio” fell by 1.1 basis points to 60.0 percent. The only bright spot reported was average hourly earnings for employees improved/increased up to 3.1% (over the last 12-months). [This may simply reflect that those hanging onto to jobs saw small hourly increases, while vast numbers were furloughed or temporarily unemployed during the pandemic imposed downturn].
Workforce Statistics Chart