U.S. employers went on a massive hiring spree in March, adding 916,000 workers to their payrolls as the mass vaccine rollout and the reopening of economies emboldened them to add to their payrolls.
The unemployment rate fell to 6% from 6.2% as the labor force participation rate increased, albeit slightly, the Department of Labor reported. Economists were expecting job gains of between 650,000 to 700,000, but the surge in hiring in March was the most since Aug. 2020 when 1.58 million jobs were added.
Hiring was strongest in the services sector of the economy, which has been the hardest hit during the pandemic, as 280,000 jobs were added in leisure and hospitality with the reopening of restaurants and bars across the country. Here's where the other job gains came from:
Even with the robust job gains, there are still 9.5 million people out of work due to the pandemic, according to the Labor Department. Among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff declined by 203,000 in March to 2 million. That is down considerably from the recent high of 18 million in April 2020, but it is still 1.3 million higher than in Feb. 2020. The number of permanent job losses, at 3.4 million, was little changed in March but is 2.1 million higher than Feb. 2020.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) stood at 4.2 million. That number has been stubbornly high, and in March these long-term unemployed accounted for 43.4% of the total unemployed. The number of people out of work from five to 14 weeks declined by 313,000 to 1.9 million. The number of people jobless less than five weeks, at 2.2 million, was essentially unchanged over the month.
Unemployment by race continues to show an uneven recovery in March. The unemployment rate for Blacks declined to 9.6% from 9.9% in February, while it fell to 7.9% from 8.5% for Hispanics. Asian unemployment rose to 6% from 5.1%, and white unemployment fell to 5.4% from 5.5% last month.