U.S. job gains surge in March 2024

James Hydzik

5 April 2024 - 16:37

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The U.S. job market heated up with 303,000 jobs gained in March, as opposed to an average of 231,000 per month over the preceding 12 months.

U.S. job gains surge in March 2024

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released nonfarm payroll employment figures for March on April 5. Employment rose by 303,000, or 76% above the average job gains over the preceding 12 months. The BLS noted that the health care, government, and construction industries saw the largest gains. The overall unemployment rate fell from 3.9% to 3.8%.

Health Care

The BLS notes that health care gained 72,000 jobs in this period, mostly in:
• in ambulatory health care services (+28,000);
• hospitals (+27,000); and
• nursing and residential care facilities (+18,000).
This gain is 20% higher than the average in the preceding 12 months.


Government jobs grew 71,000, including:
• local government (+49,000);
• federal government (+9,000).
This gain is 35% higher than the average in the preceding 12 months.


New construction jobs more than doubled in March, with 39,000 new jobs compared to the average of 19,000. In particular, non-residential specialty trade contractor positions gained 16,000 jobs. Analysts point to elevated factory construction as a factor in the rise.

Other industries

Leisure and hospitality gained 49,000 jobs in March, a figure which brings it back to pre-COVID numbers. BLS notes that the average over the preceding 12 months had been 37,000 new jobs per month.

Social assistance jobs gained, but at a below average rate. In March, 9,000 jobs were gained, or less than half of the 22,000 jobs per month over the last 12 months.

In March, employment changed little in aggregate in retail trade, though general retail gained and more specific retail such as automotive lost. Other industries such as mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; financial activities; and professional and business services stayed at the same level of employment.

Unemployment versus interest rates

The low unemployment rate and higher than expected job uptake signals that the economy is not cooling off, so those waiting for interest rates to drop can be concerned. On the other hand, equities had been hit with a poor week until this morning, and the better than expected numbers from BLS may propel stocks upward.

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