The labor market recovered about 12 million of the 22 million jobs lost in the first two months of the pandemic by October, but until Friday’s report, the pace of the recovery had slowed greatly, as the virus surged through the holidays and into the New Year.
But the March data — the largest number of jobs added since August — is yet another reason for optimism, as coronavirus vaccines become more accessible throughout the country and caseloads remain well below their peaks.
The increase was driven by gains in the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 280,000 jobs in the month as coronavirus restrictions eased around the country. Most of that increase, about 176,000 jobs, was from restaurants, bars and other food service establishments. Arts, entertainment and recreation facilities saw gains of 64,000 jobs, and hotels, about 40,000.
The sector still remains about a 3 million jobs short of where it was in before the pandemic.
Elsewhere, employment rose 126,000 in public education at the state and local levels, and 64,000 in private education. Construction added 110,000 jobs after a disappointing month before.
Transportation and warehousing added 48,000 jobs, and retail added 23,000 jobs, from job growth in clothing stores, motor vehicle and parts dealers, and furniture and home furnishing stores.