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Wholesaler-distributors more than pulled their weight in contributing to March U.S. employment figures, according to government data and MDM analysis. While wholesale trade employment accounted for 4.2% of March nonfarm employment, the industry accounted for 13.6% of the increase in jobs for the month. Other industries that showed strong job growth over the month included construction, mining and health care.[IMGCAP(1)]
Wholesaler distributors increased the number of employees by 14,600 from February to March, with total employment at 5.7 million, seasonally adjusted. Total nonfarm employment increased by 110,000 in March to 132.9 million, seasonally adjusted, and the unemployment rate declined to 5.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure is down from 5.7% a year earlier.
The strong increase in March followed a February increase of 6,600 jobs. From March 2004 to March 2005, employment has increased by 72,000 in wholesale trade sectors. Since its recent low in 2003, the industry has added 112,000 jobs.
For March 2005, durable goods wholesale trade increased by 6,400 jobs to 3.0 million. Nondurable goods wholesale trade was up 7,400 jobs to 2.0 million. Electronic markets and agents and brokers make up the rest of the wholesale trade segment, with March employment static at 713,000.
Within the goods-producing sector, construction employment rose by 26,000 in March, following a similar gain in February. This industry has added 489,00 jobs since its most recent low in March 2003. Residential building and residential specialty trade contractors together accounted for 70% of the two-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 to stand at 14.3 million. That represents an increase of 23,000 over the past year, seasonally adjusted.
Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in March (27,000). Over the year, monthly job gains in this broad industry category have averaged 51,000. Within professional and business services, temporary help employment was about unchanged in March, following an increase of 26,000 in February.
Elsewhere among service-providing industries, employment continued to trend up in food services and in credit intermediation.