Job Market Update: April 2016 

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Non-farm payroll employment over-the-month change, seasonally adjusted, March, 2014 - March, 2016

Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics "Employment Situation Report" for March 2016

The economic outlook is holding steady, with another 215,000 jobs added in the month of March. The unemployment rate is up slightly from last month but has remained relatively low. Notable job growth occurred in healthcare, professional business services, construction and leisure and hospitality.

Manufacturing suffered significant losses. Only a few subsectors managed to increase or retain current employment rates.

There is really good news! The low unemployment rate has affected average earnings, now at $25.43. Average wages increased 7 cents from February and are 2.3% higher than this time last year.

The number of jobs added in February 2016 was revised from +242,000 to +245,000, and the January number was revised from +172,000 to +158,000, accounting for a difference of -11,000 jobs than were previously reported for the last two months.

In Your Industry

Several sectors indicated strong job growth in February, and others, such as transportation and manufacturing experienced notable decreases from last month. Keep reading for an overview of industry-specific employment numbers.

Construction is growing all across the board with a total increase of +37,000 jobs in March. Specialty trade contractors (+18,100) supported the highest percentage of the increase. Heavy and civil engineering construction added +11,200 jobs as well. All subsectors of the Construction industry experienced employment gains.

Manufacturing, still reeling from a downward trend in February, lost 29,000 jobs in March. Dramatic decreases occurred in the nondurable goods sector, which lost 24,000 jobs. Almost all subsectors of the manufacturing industry have experienced increased joblessness rates. Non-metallic mineral products and communications equipment were the only subsectors to add jobs in the industry.

Retail trade continued to experience job growth at staggering rates in March (+47,700). Health and personal care saw an increase of 10,200 jobs while general merchandise stores added 12,000.

Transportation and warehousing lost jobs overall, seeing a decrease of 2,500. An interesting shift has emerged; Rail transportation lost -2,800 jobs while transit and ground passenger transportation added + 3,400.

Professional and business services experienced gains, adding 33,000 jobs overall. Administrative & Support Services account for 14,100 of those positions.

Education and health services have consistently added the highest number of jobs to the economy (+51,000). Moe the 85% of those gains are, somewhat unsurprisingly, in the healthcare and social assistance sectors (+44,000). As the population continues to age and more focus is placed on policy reform in this sector, the demand for talented employees will increase.

Hospital added 10,200 jobs in March, very similar to the change in February.

Leisure and hospitality has experienced amazing growth and continues to do so, adding 40,000 jobs. Accommodation and food service (+26,300) tends to lead this industry; growth in this subsector accounted for more than half of the net increase.

Temporary help services rebounded a bit from last month’s significant decrease, adding 4,000 positions in March.

In Your Region

Overall, regional and state unemployment rates did not change significantly between January and February. Employment rates increased in 22 states, decreased in 8 and remained the same in 20. Year over year, 37 states and the District of Columbia have seen an increase in employment.

These stats represent good news as the joblessness rate is lower when compared to the same month of the previous year and has not changed since January. The largest month-over-month job gains were in California (+39,900), New York (+25,100) and Pennsylvania (+21,000). Note that Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington all saw significant year-over-year increases in their employment rates, each increasing by 3% or more.

Check out these key regional highlights from the BLS “Regional and State Employment and Unemployment – February 2015" report.


The Mid-Atlantic region showed an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent (-0.1 from the previous month and -1.1 from Feb. 2015). New Jersey had the lowest unemployment rate in this region at 4.3 percent. New York City's saw significant change with 4.8 percent, dropping significantly from 5.7 percent in Feb. 2015. At 4.8 percent, the Midwest region has a joblessness rate that is 0.5 percent lower than the National average.


The Midwest unemployment rate remains consistently low at 4.8 percent but rose by 0.1 percent month over month, falling 0.3 percent from the previous year. Illinois was the only state in the Midwest with an unemployment rate significantly above the national average, at 6.4%. States in the Midwest have lower unemployment rate, largely due to the revival of energy and logistics industries.

North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Idaho all have unemployment rates below 4.0. Michigan sits at 4.8 percent, with Detroit-Warren-Dearborn well above the national rate at 5.8 percent. This area, however, has seen a significant drop in the unemployment rate year-over-year, decreasing by 0.9%. A rise in industrial jobs in Michigan could account for some of this regional growth.


The New England region has an unemployment rate that is 0.5 percent below the national average. Since February of last year, the region’s joblessness rate has fallen by 0.7 percent. Vermont and New Hampshire have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation both at 3.4% and 2.7% respectively. In fact, New Hampshire is matched only by South Dakota.


The South’s unemployment rate only fell .01% to 5.0% month-over-month. The South is the largest region with lots a variance between states. There are eight states in the region with unemployment rates that are significant above the national average including: Mississippi (6.5%), Louisiana (5.9%), Kentucky (5.8%), North Carolina (5.5%), South Carolina (5.5%), West Virginia (6.5%) and the District of Columbia (6.5%). Oklahoma (4.2 percent), Arkansas (4.2 percent) and Virginia (4.1 percent) have the lowest unemployment rates of the region.


The west continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the country at 5.2 percent. Year-over-year, the West's unemployment rate has dropped by nearly a percentage point from 6.1. Utah and Colorado have the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, 3.4 and 3.0 respectively. While Washington (5.8%), Nevada (5.9%) and New Mexico (6.4%) have the highest.

Though California’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average, the state added the most jobs between January and February (+39,900). Over the month, the West was the only region to experience a statistically significant change in the unemployment rate month-over-month (-1%).