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Unemployment remains low despite rising interest rates

Despite more Americans opting to return to the workforce, the U.S. unemployment rate is near historically low levels.
A now hiring sign is displayed in front of a grocery store.
Posted at 9:26 AM, Apr 07, 2023

The U.S. unemployment rate dropped just 0.1% to 3.5% in March, even though there has been pressure placed on the economy thanks to recent interest rate hikes, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

The U.S. economy added 236,000 jobs in March, down from 311,000 a month earlier. Most of the gains were in the leisure and hospitality, government, professional and business services, and health care industries. 

An estimated 320,000 Americans decided to enter the workforce, and 577,000 people who weren’t previously employed gained jobs in March. That helped the nation’s workforce participation rate go up 0.1% to 62.6%. 

Unemployment and job growth are factors the Federal Reserve considers when deciding to raise interest rates. Raising interest rates generally causes the economy to cool, meaning job losses are expected.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said interest rates are continuing to go up as the Fed tries to push interest rates to a normalized 2% annual growth. Powell last announced another interest rate hike last month. 

As of February 2023, the annual rate of inflation was 6%,according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

One indicator Powell and Fed look at is wage growth. In the last year, hourly wages have increased an average of 4.2%, according to the BLS. 

Although most industries have remained stable over the last year, the hospitality industry has seen the largest gains with 1 million added workers from a year ago. 

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