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Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 701,000 in March, and the unemployment rate rose to 4.4%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to contain it. Employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 459,000, mainly in food services and drinking places. Notable declines also occurred in health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction.
In March, the unemployment rate increased by 0.9% to 4.4%. This is the largest over-the-month increase in the rate since January 1975, when the increase was also 0.9%.
The number of unemployed persons rose by 1.4 million to 7.1 million in March. The sharp increases in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus and efforts to contain it.
The number of unemployed persons who reported being on temporary layoff more than doubled in March to 1.8 million. The number of permanent job losers increased by 177,000 to 1.5 million.
Employment decreased over the month in construction (-29,000). In March, nonresidential building (-11,000) and heavy and civil engineering construction (-10,000) lost jobs. Construction employment had increased by 211,000 over the prior 12 months.
In March, manufacturing employment was down -18,000. Over the past 12 months, employment in the industry has shown little net change.