March Unemployment at 4.5%; Businesses Claim To Create 89k New Jobs

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Businesses claimed to create a net of 89,000 new jobs, while governments reported adding 9,000 more, all in local schools, a separate survey shows.

The number of jobless declined by 326,000 in March, BLS said, to 7.2 million. The jobless rate declined by 0.2 percent. And the rate covering the jobless, those so discouraged they stopped seeking work and those employed part-time who really want full-time work dropped by 0.3 percent, to 8.9 percent of all workers, or one of every 11.

“The unemployment rate has been slowly but steadily declining since the depths of the Great Recession,” said Economic Policy Institute analyst Elise Gould. “But it still has a ways to go before we can safely say we are at full employment.”

The jobless rate “sat at roughly 4 percent for two years, 1999 and 2000, without provoking inflation,” she added.

Slow job growth spread through various occupations.

Factories added 11,000 jobs in March, to 11.39 million, but that still left 614,000 factory workers (3.9 percent) jobless. Half of new factory jobs were in fabricated metal products (+5,500 jobs), while cars and parts (+3,100) accounted for much of the rest.

Construction firms added 6,000 jobs, rising to 6.882 million. A large gain among non-residential specialty contractors (+7,300 jobs) canceled out losses elsewhere. But that still left 764,000 (8.4 percent) of construction workers jobless, a higher jobless rate than in any other large occupation.

Services added 61,000 jobs in March, far below normal. Gains were dragged down by a 29,700-job loss in retail trade. Virtually all was in general merchandise and department stores.

Big gainers in services included trucking (+4,700), temps (+10,500), janitors (+16,800), health care (+13,500) and bars and restaurants (+21,700). With 11.61 million jobs, bars and restaurants – the lowest-paying job sector – now employ more workers than factories do.


Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Press Associates

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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