US. job gains continue, jobless rate edges up

Job growth continues in the United States with the latest increase in payrolls estimated at 215,000, the Labor Department reported.

The unemployment rate edged up a tenth of a point to 5 percent in March, but the gain was attributed in part to more people returning to the work force to look for jobs.

The Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls increased 215,000 with hiring in the retail trade, construction and health care sectors.

The initial estimate for job gains in February was revised upward 3,000 to 245,000. But the initial estimate for January was revised downward 4,000 to 168,000.

With the latest numbers, nonfarm payrolls have increased an average of 209,000 a month over the past three months.

Still, 8 million people were counted among the unemployed in March, and 2.2 million have been out of work 27 weeks or longer. Another 6.1 million people were counted among those working part-time because their hours have been cut  or they’ve been unable to find full-time employment.

The labor force participation edged up a tenth to 63 percent, the highest level in two years, but still 3 points below where it was when the recession began in 2007.

Retail trades added 48,000 jobs, while payrolls increased 37,000 in both the construction and health care sectors. Food services and drinking places added 25,000 positions, while employment increased 15,000 in financial activities.

Manufacturers cut 29,000 jobs. Mining payrolls shrank 12,000 with most of the layoffs in support services.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.4 hours. The manufacturing workweek slipped a tenth of an hour to 40.6 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 7 cents to $25.43. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 2.3 percent.