Lifted by a surge in construction, the national unemployment rate improved to 6.0% in March, compared to 6.2% in February.
The construction industry added 110,000 jobs in March, a big improvement from February which saw a loss of 56,000 – probably weather-related, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning. It was also one of the largest monthly gains ever for the sector.
Constructions growth "raises the prospect for more home building and more inventory reaching the market in the upcoming months," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. "The housing market has been hot with fast-rising home prices but has been constrained by a lack of supply. By hiring more workers and building more homes, home prices will move to a manageable level to give more Americans a shot at ownership."
According to the government report, construction gains break down as follows:
• Specialty trade contractors: 65,000;
• Heavy and civil engineering construction, 27,000;
• Construction of buildings: 18,000.
Despite the March 2021 gains, employment in construction remains 182,000 below the pre-pandemic February 2020 level.
Overall, the labor force participation rate changed little at 61.5% in March. This measure is 1.8 percentage points lower than in February 2020. The employment-population ratio, at 57.8%, was up by 0.2 percentage point over the month but is 3.3 percentage points lower than in February 2020.