The U.S. Added 916,000 Jobs In March As Labor Market Comes Roaring Back


The U.S. economy added 916,000 jobs in March, according to data released by the Labor Department Friday, exceeding economists’ expectations by some 300,000 jobs as vaccines rolled out across the country and states continued lifting virus-related restrictions on businesses.

Key Facts

The leisure and hospitality industries—two of the sectors hit hardest by the pandemic last spring—drove the gains last month with 280,000 jobs added, two-thirds of which were in restaurants and bars.

The public and private education sectors added a combined 190,000 jobs as in-person learning resumed in many areas of the U.S., and the construction industry added 110,000 jobs.

The labor force participation rate held relatively steady at 61.5% in March as 347,000 people returned to work.

The unemployment rate ticked down slightly to 6.0% in March from 6.2% in February.

As it has in previous months, the report showed significant discrepancies in unemployment by race: the unemployment rate for Black Americans was 9.6% in March compared to 7.9% for Hispanics, 6.0% for Asians and 5.4% for whites.

Big Number

9.7 million. That’s how many people are now unemployed across the country, down from 22 million at the onset of the crisis last spring.

Key Background

Friday’s blockbuster data comes as relief spending from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is beginning to make its way into the economy. Data aggregated by Bank of America last week showed that credit and debit card spending soared 45% as the $1,400 stimulus checks authorized by that legislation hit bank accounts.

What To Watch For

Next month’s numbers could be even better. “The tide is turning,” Michelle Meyer, chief U.S. economist for Bank of America, told the New York Times, adding that March’s data, “reaffirms this idea that the economy is accelerating meaningfully in the spring.”

Further Reading

The Economy Doesn’t Need The Fed’s Easy Monetary Policy To Keep Booming, BofA Says (Forbes)

$1,400 Stimulus Checks Are Already Working As Credit, Debit Spending Surges 45%, BofA Says (Forbes)

Powell And Yellen Praise Aggressive Stimulus Spending, Acknowledge Incomplete Economic Recovery In Congressional Testimony (Forbes)

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