DC metro regains another 16,000 jobs

FILE - In this March 4, 2021, file photo, a sign reading "Welcome Back Now Open" is posted on the window of a Morton's Steakhouse restaurant as a man works inside during the coronavirus pandemic in San Francisco. California lost close to 70,000 jobs in January. But new numbers released Friday, March 12, 2021, by the state's Employment Development Department show the unemployment rate declined slightly to 9%. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)(AP/Jeff Chiu)
The unemployment rate in the D.C. metro region fell to a pandemic low in March, and the region continued to regain jobs, though both are still nowhere near year-ago levels.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the Washington region’s unemployment rate last month was 5.6%, down from 5.8% in February. In March 2020, the D.C. area’s unemployment rate was 3.2%.

The national unemployment rate in March was 6.2%. The unemployment rates are not seasonally-adjusted.

The metro area ended March with 16,149 more jobs than were counted in February. The year-over-year deficit in employment is now 196,107 jobs.

Some regions have recovered to pre-pandemic levels. BLS says unemployment rates were lower than a year ago in 75 metro areas, but still higher in 308.

Among metros with a population of 1 million or more, Los Angeles had the highest March unemployment rate, at 9.8%, followed by Las Vegas and the New York City area, at 8.8% each.

Salt Lake City maintained the lowest big city unemployment rate, at 3.0%, followed by Birmingham at 3.2%.

Of all metro areas, El Centro, California, remains the city with the highest unemployment rate, at 15.7% in March. Logan, Utah, had the lowest, at 2.1%.

Greater New York City has the largest year-over-year employment deficit, with the number of jobs down almost 933,00 jobs from a year ago. It is followed by Los Angeles, with almost 595,000 jobs still missing, and Chicago, with a year-over year deficit of 331,000.

The April unemployment reports for metropolitan areas, due in late-May, will be an inflection point, comparing unemployment rates to April 2020, the first full month of the pandemic’s impact on employment.

The Labor Department’s national report on April unemployment and job growth is scheduled for May 7. The Bureau of Labor Statistics posts metro area employment and unemployment rates online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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