US Adds 916,000 Jobs in March — Strongest Gain Since Summer

Young elementary teacher wearing a protective face mask at school.
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The US added 916,000 jobs in March, boosted by the leisure and hospitality sector, representing the strongest month since last summer and beating economists’ expectations. This nascent economic recovery is also reflected in the decrease in the unemployment rate from 6.2% in February to 6% in March, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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“These improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” the Labor Department said in a statement.

Economists estimated 675,000 jobs to be added in March and the unemployment rate to decrease to 6% from 6.2%, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This follows an addition of 379,000 jobs in February.

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“The rate is down considerably from its recent high in April 2020 but is 2.5 percentage points higher than its pre- pandemic level in February 2020,” the Labor Department said in its statement. “The number of unemployed persons, at 9.7 million, continued to trend down in March but is 4.0 million higher than in February 2020.”

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In terms of sectors, job growth in March was widespread, with the largest gains occurring in leisure and hospitality, public and private education and construction, according to the Labor Department

Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 280,000 in March, as pandemic-related restrictions eased in many parts of the country. Nearly two-thirds of the increase was in food services and drinking places. Job gains also occurred in arts, entertainment and recreation and in accommodation. However, employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 3.1 million, or 18.5% since February 2020.

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Employment increased in both public and private education, reflecting the continued resumption of in-person learning and other school-related activities in many parts of the country, the Labor Department said in the statement.

Construction added 110,000 jobs in March, following job losses in the previous month that were likely weather related.

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Among the major workers groups, the unemployment rates changed little over the month for men with 5.8%, women with 5.7% and teenagers, with 13%. Minorities continue to be the most affected worker groups, with Asians’ unemployment rising to 6% this month, following a decline the previous month. The jobless rate for Hispanics edged down to 7.9% over the month, while the rates for and Black workers changed little at 9.6%.

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        About the Author

        Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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