U.S. Payrolls Count Falls by 173,000 in Year Through March

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The number of workers added to payrolls will probably be revised down by 173,000 during the period, a Labor Department spokesperson said by phone Wednesday. That would be a downward revision of about 14,400 on a monthly basis. The data were due for release on the BLS’s website at 10 a.m. in Washington, but weren’t immediately available.

The revisions cover a wide-reaching period, encapsulating both job gains from the record-long economic expansion that ended in February and the first wave of what would ultimately be millions of job losses related to Covid-19 and the recession it spurred.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data currently show nonfarm payroll employment increased by an average of 73,000 a month in the year through March 2020, dragged down by a 1.37 million decline in March as states ordered or encouraged Americans to stay home to combat the spread of the virus. The decline was a dramatic shift from the jobs market heading into the pandemic, where employers were adding around 200,000 people to payrolls each month and companies complained about the challenges of finding enough qualified workers.

The data showed a 144,400 upward revision in transportation and warehousing, which helped offset a 125,000 downward revision in professional and business services and a 118,000 downward revision in education and health services.

The final annual benchmark revisions to payrolls will be issued with the January employment data released in February 2021. The Labor Department uses records from state jobless benefit tax records to benchmark its employment data.

(Updates with sectoral revisions in fifth paragraph.)

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