Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 431,000 in March, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.6% from 3.8%. The labor market recovery is continuing, as employment in some sectors, such as professional and business services, financial activities, and retail sectors, is now above pre-pandemic levels.
Construction industry employment (both residential and non-residential) totaled 7.6 million and has returned to its February 2020 level. Residential construction gained 7,600 jobs, while non-residential construction added 11,300 jobs for the month. Residential construction employment currently exceeds its level in February 2020, while 76% of non-residential construction jobs lost in March and April have now been recovered.
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 431,000 in March, following a gain of 750,000 in February, as reported in the Employment Situation Summary. Job gains for January and February were revised upward. The January estimate was revised up by 23,000 from +481,000 to +504,000, while the February increase was revised up by 72,000 to 750,000.
In the first quarter of 2022, nearly 1.7 million jobs were created, and monthly employment growth averaged 562,000 per month, the same as the average monthly gain for 2021. As of February 2022, total nonfarm employment is 1.6 million lower than its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 3.6% in March. It was 11.1 percentage points lower than its recent high of 14.7% in April 2020 and 0.1 percentage point higher than the rate in February 2020.
The labor force participation rate, the proportion of the population either looking for a job or already with a job, increased 0.1 percentage point to 62.4% in March, as the number of persons unemployed decrease and the number of persons employed increased. It marks the highest level since March 2020, as more people are reentering the labor force.
Additionally, according to the Household Survey supplemental data, which come from questions added to the Current Population Survey (CPS) since May 2020, 10.0% of employed persons teleworked or worked at home in the last 4 weeks specifically because of the coronavirus pandemic in March, down from 13.0% in the previous month. The share of the employed who teleworked has declined over the past two months. A year ago, in March 2021, 21.0% of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Job gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and manufacturing continued in March, while employment in mining, wholesale trade, information, other services, and government changed little.
Employment in the overall construction sector increased by 19,000 in March, following a gain of 57,000 in February. Residential construction added 7,600 jobs, and non-residential construction employment rose by 11,300 in March.
Residential construction employment now stands at 3.1 million in March, broken down as 889,000 builders and 2.2 million residential specialty trade contractors. The 6-month moving average of job gains for residential construction was 11,783 a month. Over the last 12 months, home builders and remodelers added 103,000 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 1,153,000 positions.
In March, the unemployment rate for construction workers declined by 0.2 percentage points to 4.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis. The unemployment rate for construction workers has been trending lower, after reaching 14.2% in April 2020, due to the housing demand impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.