Employers expanded payrolls by 236,000 jobs in March, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That figure is slightly higher than analysts’ forecasts of 230,000 jobs.

The latest jobs report also notes that employers added 17,000 fewer positions during January and February than previously reported.

Employers in leisure and hospitality, healthcare, led job growth last month

The leisure and hospitality industry saw solid job gains in March, with employers adding 72,000 positions. In the education and health services sector, employers expanded payrolls by 65,000 jobs.

Employers in the following industries also reported job growth last month:

  • Government: 47,000 jobs added
  • Professional and business services: 39,000 jobs added
  • Transportation and warehousing: 10,400 jobs added
  • Wholesale trade: 6,700 jobs added
  • Information: 6,000 jobs

According to the March jobs report, industries that experienced payroll contraction last month included retail trade (-14,600) and construction (-9,000).

Unemployment rate dips to 3.5%

The national unemployment rate was 3.5% in March, edging down from 3.6% in February.

The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older sat at 2.0% last month, unchanged since January. These professionals are the most highly sought-after by employers.

Other BLS data shows many occupations have even lower unemployment rates, including:

  • Accountants and auditors: 1.7%
  • Lawyers: 1.3%
  • Office and administrative support professionals: 0.9%

BLS reports a decrease in U.S. job openings — but the quit rate remains strong

According to separate data from the BLS, job openings in the United States decreased significantly in February to 9.9 million; that figure was 10.8 million in January. That is the first time since May 2021 that the number of openings has been below the 10 million mark.

However, the number of voluntary quits in February was 4 million, up from 3.9 million the previous month. This suggests that many professionals remain optimistic about their job prospects. That aligns with recent research from Robert Half, which found that 46% of U.S. workers plan to seek new positions in the first half of this year.

Stay current on hiring trends: Demand for Skilled Talent

Read the latest issue of Robert Half’s Demand for Skilled Talent report to get details on in-demand positions for several industries including accounting and finance, administrative and customer support, legal, and technology. Learn about local and remote hiring trends in the United States — and get insight into how employers and workers are feeling about the current economic environment.

View The Demand for Skilled Talent report now on the Robert Half website.

More resources from the Robert Half Blog

Top Tips on How to Prepare for a Job Interview: Get Robert Half’s quick tip sheet outlining eight best practices that can help make you a more confident interviewee ready to wow a hiring manager.

Back to School: 4 Campus Recruiting Trends for 2023: Many new grads will be entering the job market soon. See this post to learn how your business can connect with top early-career talent.

How to Work With a Recruiter to Land the Best Talent or Best Job in 2023: Working with a professional recruiter can give you a competitive edge in the hiring market. That’s true whether you’re an employer or a job candidate — find out why in this post.