The number of US temporary help services jobs declined by 10,700 in March to just short of 3.05 million, according to seasonally adjusted data released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, total nonfarm employment rose by 236,000 in March, with total jobs at nearly 155.6 million.

“The headline slower gains in overall employment suggest that the Fed’s strategy to cool the economy is taking hold,” said Barry Asin, president of Staffing Industry Analysts. “Given ongoing tightness in much of the labor market, it is particularly encouraging to see growth in the labor force and the highest level of labor force participation since the beginning of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the decline in temp help employment is consistent with slower growth for the labor market in the days ahead.”

Today’s data indicates the temp penetration rate — temp jobs as a percent of total employment — edged down to 1.96% in March from 1.97% in February.

The US had an average monthly gain of 334,000 nonfarm jobs over the past six months. The agency noted that in March, employment continued to trend upward in “leisure and hospitality,” which added 72,000 jobs; “government,” which added 47,000; “professional and business services,” up 39,000; and healthcare, which saw an increase of 34,000 jobs.

The BLS revised downward the previous nonfarm job numbers reported in January and February. Combined, there were 17,000 fewer nonfarm jobs than reported and 2,100 fewer temp jobs.

In March, the unemployment rate edged down to 3.5% from 3.6% in February. Meanwhile, the college-level unemployment rate was 2.0% in March, unchanged since January.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by nine cents to $33.18. For production and nonsupervisory employees, the increase was also nine cents to $28.50.

A full analysis of jobs numbers has been prepared by Staffing Industry Analysts.

U.S. job growth cooled in March but continued to chug along at a healthy pace, boosted by a flurry of hiring at bars and restaurants.

Employers added 236,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department said in its monthly payroll report released Friday, mostly in line with the 239,000 jobs forecast by Refinitiv economists. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, ticked lower to 3.5% as the labor force participation rate increased to the highest level since before the pandemic began. 

It marked the lowest monthly jobs gain since December 2020.

"There are clear signs of a more broad-based slowdown in the report, with job gains becoming more narrowly concentrated in fewer industries, and wage growth continuing to soften," said Sinem Buber, lead economist at ZipRecruiter.

"Now Hiring" sign

A "now hiring" sign is displayed in front of a Chipotle restaurant Oct. 7, 2022, in Washington, D.C.  (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Although job gains were broad-based last month, the leisure and hospitality sector – the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic – led the way in hiring, adding another 72,000 workers last month. Bars and restaurants accounted for the bulk of those gains, adding 50,300 workers in March. Hotels saw payrolls grow by 5,200, while amusement, gambling and recreation places onboarded 10,900 workers.

Employment in the leisure and hospitality industry still remains about 368,000 workers — or roughly 2.2% — below its pre-pandemic levels. 

Another big source of job creation in March was the government, which saw hiring climb by 47,000 last month. Within the sector, notable hiring gains took place in local governments (26,000) and state governments (13,000). 

Hiring in the professional and business services was another component behind the solid jobs report. The sector hired about 39,000 employees in March, with the biggest gains in administrative and support services (13,300), management, scientific and technical consulting services (7,600) and accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and other payroll services (5,800) ahead of the April 18 tax-filing deadline.

US jobs

A construction crew works at a site near the U.S. Capitol on August 12, 2021, in Washington, D.C.  ((Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

Employment in other industries, including health care (33,900), social assistance (16,900), private education (14,600) and transportation and warehousing (10,400) also rose last month. 

Those increases helped to make up for declines in the retail sector, which lost 14,600 workers in March. Those losses stemmed from a drop at furniture stores (8,700) and food and beverage retailers (6,400). However, department stores hired 14,800 workers last month, offsetting some of those declines.

"March’s jobs growth was the smallest monthly increase since December 2020, but was still a good increase," said Bill Adams, chief economist at Comerica Bank. "Hiring is slowing, with headwinds concentrated in the tech industry, real estate, finance, and retail."

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