The Department of Labor published the March 2013 unemployment report this morning and the news is not good.  After a revised addition of 268,000 jobs during February, nonfarm payroll employment only increased by 88,000 in March.  The official unemployment rate for the month is 7.6 percent but as always, that figure doesn’t paint a clear picture of the jobs situation in the nation.

Nearly 40 percent of the 11.7 million ‘officially’ unemployed individuals have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer.  I say officially because there are still millions of people out of work, those that are considered marginally attached, but they aren’t counted as part of the official unemployment rate because they haven’t actively sought employment in the four-week period prior to the unemployment survey.

Of the 2.3 million marginally attached workers, 803,000 are discouraged.  “Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.”  Source: DOL

Jobs were added in several industries including health care (+23,000 jobs) and construction (+18,000).  The retail industry shrank by 24,000 jobs after averaging growth of 32,000 jobs per month for the previous six months.

State-specific unemployment data runs about a month behind the national numbers and in February, California, Mississippi and Nevada posted the highest unemployment rates in the nation with a 9.6 percent rate for each of these three states.  

On the opposite end of the spectrum is North Dakota with a 3.3 percent unemployment rate.  Obviously, the state’s oil boom is still going strong.  North Dakota isn’t the only state with a better than average unemployment rate, though.  Nebraska’s unemployment rate was only 3.8 percent and both South Dakota and Vermont had 4.4 percent unemployment rates in February.  Overall, 22 states had unemployment rates that were ‘significantly lower’ than the national unemployment rate.

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