March Jobs Data: Solid, Including Self-Employed Entrepreneurs

By at 1 April, 2022, 12:06 pm

by Raymond J. Keating –

The latest employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed robust job growth in March, as well as welcome levels of self-employed entrepreneurship.

While nonfarm payroll employment expanded by a strong 431,000 in March, there’s more. When looking at the data from the household survey – which better captures startup and small business activity – we see ever more robust numbers.

First, employment grew by 736,000 in March, again according to the household survey.

Second, the labor force expanded by 418,000, with those not in the labor force declining by 298,000.

Third, the labor force participation rate moved up from 62.3 percent in February to 62.4 percent in March. That’s the highest level since March 2020, but still down from 63.4 percent in pre-pandemic February 2020.

Fourth, the employment-population ratio increased from 59.9 percent to 60.1 percent. That is the first time the ratio has hit 60 percent since the pandemic struck, but it remains below the 61.2 percent registered in February 2020.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED

The entrepreneurship data in the report was positive.

First, incorporated self-employed came in at 6.322 million in March 2022 versus 6.024 million in March 2021 (this data is not seasonally adjusted so the numbers must be compared to the same time last year). The March 2022 6.322 million marked the highest number for March going back to the start of this dataset in 2000.

Second, unincorporated self-employed (seasonally adjusted data) increased from 9.976 million in February to 10.018 million in March. The unincorporated self-employed number has moved above the 10 million mark for the seventh time in the last nine months, and stands notably above the pre-pandemic level of 9.579 million in February 2020. That ended a stretch of data coming in below 10 million from April 2009 through June 2021.

Amidst concerns over inflation, future economic growth, misguided public policies, and Russia’s war on Ukraine, this March employment report serves as a welcome bright spot.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


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