The United States economy added 916,000 jobs in March according to the Labor Department’s jobs report on Friday, bolstering optimism of an economic recovery in 2021 after job losses closed out 2020.
The unemployment rate fell to 6%, which is down significantly from the high of 19.2% in April 2020, but still much higher than the 3.5% rate in December 2019. The official rate doesn’t capture the nearly 4 million people who lost their jobs last year and left the labor force, the DOL noted. Nonetheless, Friday’s jobs report was even better than the 675,000 jobs economists had expected.
As was the case in February, there continued to be gains in the leisure and hospitality sector, which includes restaurants, adding 280,000 jobs. The sector lost 61,000 jobs in January, following a steep decline of 536,000 in December. Construction also saw a large increase in jobs, as 110,000 were added in March, following losses in the previous month.
“It shows that the economy is healing, that those who lost their jobs are coming back into the workforce as the recovery continues and restrictions are lifted,” Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial told CNBC. “The only concern here is if we have another wave of COVID that leads to another round of closures.”
Reduced business restrictions, increased vaccination and a lower level of COVID-19 infections relative to the previous two months are considered contributing factors to what was another strong jobs report. All three factors are likely to gain positive momentum in the coming months, which should lead to hiring surges in the hospitality industry. The education industry also saw an uptick with students heading back into schools, as local, state and private education institutions combined to hire 190,000 more employees.
The Congressional Budget Office and many economists expect it will take until 2024 to fully recoup jobs lost during the pandemic.
Hiring is likely to spring back even stronger in the months ahead as the weather warms and Americans fell more confident traveling, dining out, going to a game or visiting a museum or amusement park.
“While we still have a long way to go to repair the damage that was done to the economy last year, we’re making good progress,” Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance, told MarketWatch.
About the Author
Brett Christie is the managing editor of Workspan Daily.