Jobless Rate Unchanged at 9.7% in March

But 162,000 full-time jobs added; part-time jobs rose as well

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced April 2 that the unemployment rate remained at 9.7% for March 2010, despite the addition of 162,000 full-time nonfarm jobs during the month. There were 15.0 million Americans unemployed during the month, according to BLS, and of that number 44%, or 6.5 million, had been jobless for 27 weeks or more, an increase of 414,000 from February 2010.

Jobs increased in temporary help services (44,000 jobs added) and healthcare (27,000), and in the Federal government, mostly because of the Census Bureau hiring 48,000 temporary workers. The construction industry added 15,000 jobs in March, the first increase since June 2007.

Employment fell in both financial activities (21,000 jobs lost)--mostly among insurance carriers and related activities, the BLS said--and in the information industry (12,000 lost jobs). Manufacturing continued to add jobs during the month, as the sector has throughout the first quarter of 2010.

Released on a Good Friday when the stock markets were closed, the March jobless report followed by a day the weekly initial jobless claims report, which found a decrease of 6,000 claims to 439,000 for the week ending March 27, 2010. The four-week moving average of initial jobless claims was 447,250, down 6,750 from the prior week's moving average.

To read about how the markets have performed in the first quarter of 2010 prior to the jobless report's release, please read Ben Warwick's Searching for Alpha commentary here.

To read the complete BLS jobless report for March, please click here.

To read the complete Department of Labor initial jobless claims report, please click here.

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