March 2020 Jobs Report: COVID-19 Halts Decade of Labor Expansion

By Robert Half on April 3, 2020 at 7:57am

The latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that employers cut payrolls by 701,000 jobs in March, ending nearly 10 years of labor expansion in the United States. These losses reflect some of the early effects of COVID-19 and efforts to contain it, according to the BLS.

The national unemployment rate rose to 4.4% in March, and the unemployment rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older increased to 2.5%.

The BLS reports that the leisure and hospitality industry saw the deepest payroll cuts last month: 459,000 positions. 

These industries also saw significant job losses in March:

  • Education and health services: 76,000 jobs lost
  • Professional and business services: 52,000 jobs lost
  • Retail trade: 46,200 jobs lost
  • Construction: 29,000 jobs lost
  • Manufacturing: 18,000 jobs lost

NOTE: The March jobs report is likely not an accurate reflection of the depth of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. job market. The BLS data reference the first two weeks of March, before many businesses and workers were affected by shelter-in-place orders issued mid-month. 

Here are some recent blog posts that can help you navigate this turbulent period:

For employers

Robert Half can help if you need to hire remote workers. We have skilled talent available ASAP, whether you need one person or an entire project team. Request talent now.

For job seekers and professionals working remotely

Employers are still hiring, especially for remote positions. Search jobs now to find your next role.

An infographic summarizing the March 2020 jobs report and survey data from Robert Half

MARCH 2020 U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS MONTHLY JOBS SUMMARY

701,000 JOBS LOST*

4.4% UNEMPLOYMENT RATE*

2.5% UNEMPLOYMENT RATE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR COLLEGE GRADS*/**

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE OVER THE PAST 12 MONTHS*

Unemployment Rate Unemployment Rate for College Grads
April '19 3.6% 2.1%
May '19 3.6% 2.1%
June '19 3.7% 2.1%
July '19 3.7% 2.2%
August '19 3.7% 2.1%
September '19 3.5% 2.0%
October '19 3.6% 2.1%
November '19 3.5% 2.0%
December '19 3.5% 1.9%
January '20 3.6% 2.0%
February '20 3.5% 1.9%
March '20 4.4% 2.5%

*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

**College-degreed workers 25 and older

See what these results mean for job seekers and employers at roberthalf.com/blog.

NEW JOBS DON’T ALWAYS START OFF RIGHT

59% of workers have experienced a mishap when starting a new job, including tech issues, a lack of necessary supplies and not being introduced to colleagues.

Source: Robert Half survey of more than 1,000 workers in the U.S.

© 2020 Robert Half. An Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/Disability/Veterans.

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