As expected, total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 701,000 in March, and the unemployment rate rose to 4.4%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported April 3. It was the first jobs decline in nearly a decade.
The unemployment rate increased by 0.9 percentage point, the largest over-the-month increase in the rate since January 1975, when
the increase was also 0.9 percentage point. The number of unemployed persons rose by 1.4 million to 7.1 million in March.
The data, which is based on employer surveys, reportedly does not factor in the previous two-week period in which nearly 10 million people filed for unemployment.
The government attributed the decline in jobs and increased unemployment to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to contain it.
Employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 459,000, mainly in food services and drinking places. Notable declines also occurred in health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction.