WASHINGTON — The economy has created more jobs, and a record number of Americans are working, the Labor Department reported Friday, but the unemployment rate in March remained at 7.3% because of the larger labor force.
Although a record number of civilians were working--107.1 million of them, up 430,000 people from February--8.4 million Americans were jobless. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said, there were 1.3 million "discouraged workers"--people who want to work but have given up looking for a job "because they thought they could not find one."
The unemployment rate has remained essentially unchanged since last fall, although it remains high by historical standards. The unemployment rate in January was 7.4%, for instance, before dropping to 7.3% for February and March.
The March unemployment figure, when military personnel are included, was 7.2%--also the same as in February. In January, that figure was 7.3%.
High Teen-Age Rate
The unemployment rate for black teen-agers dropped slightly in March, but was still a staggering 43.1%. Teen-agers in general had an unemployment rate of 18.2%; blacks in general, 15.2%; Latinos, 10.2%, and whites, 6.2%.
Adult men had an unemployment rate in March of 6.2%, compared to 6.3% the previous month. The rate for adult women was 6.7%--unchanged from February.
The manufacturing workweek rose by 30 minutes to 40.4 hours, "nearly recouping the weather-related cutbacks that occurred in February," the Labor Department said. Factory overtime remained unchanged at 3.3 hours.
In testimony before a joint congressional panel, Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Janet Norwood said: "Although the economy is continuing to create jobs at a rapid pace, that job growth over the past half year has accommodated the expanding supply of workers but has not reduced unemployment."
She said the March figures "show continued employment and labor force growth and no change in either the level or rate of unemployment."
Employment Jump Hailed
At the White House, spokesman Larry Speakes called the employment jump "the largest one month increase since May of last year."
Particularly significant job gains were seen in the service-producing sector of the economy.
Job gains also were experienced in the retail trade and construction sectors of the economy. But manufacturing employment has been in a slump since last August, with automobile workers experiencing additional layoffs for the past two months.
Persons in the steel, textiles, petroleum and leather industries also continued to lose their jobs.
Those who lost their jobs remained unemployed for an average of almost 16 weeks--also unchanged from February.
In specific industries, the March unemployment rates were: agriculture, 12.2%; construction, 13.3%; mining and oil, 11%; wholesale and retail trade, 7.5%, service and finance, 5.7%; transportation, 4.6%.