The U.S. added a whopping 916,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 6 percent in March as the recovery from the coronavirus recession chugged ahead, the Labor Department reported Friday.
The March jobs report showed the U.S. economy picking up speed as COVID-19 vaccinations accelerated, restrictions eased and President BidenJoe BidenThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden may find zero GOP support for jobs plan Republicans don’t think Biden really wants to work with them Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows MORE signed a $1.9 trillion relief plan meant to give struggling households and businesses a bridge to the other side of the pandemic.
Economists projected the U.S. to gain 675,000 jobs in March as consumer and business confidence rose, manufacturing activity sped up, and workforce management companies reported steady rises in hiring and hours worked.
The Labor Department also revised February’s surprisingly strong gain from an initially reported 379,000 jobs up to 468,000, and January’s gain of 166,000 jobs up to 233,000, a combined total of 156,000 more jobs.
The U.S. is still 8.4 million jobs short of pre-pandemic levels, and millions more have left the workforce without a clear path to return. Labor force participation was also largely unchanged at 61.5 percent in March, 1.8 percentage points lower than it was in February 2020.
Even so, the March jobs report marked an encouraging step forward for an economy expected to speed up into the spring and summer.
The hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector led March’s haul with a gain of 280,000, 176,000 in food and beverage service places. Arts, entertainment, and recreation added 64,000 jobs and accommodation added 40,000.
Education added 190,000 jobs in March as in-person schooling resumed across much of the U.S., and the construction sector added 110,000 jobs. Professional and business services added 66,000 jobs, manufacturing employment rose by 53,000, and retailers added 23,000 workers.
Updated at 8:56 a.m.