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April 02, 2021

Good morning. Axios' Courtenay Brown and Felix Salmon here to unpack the March jobs report.

  • Smart Brevity™ count: 280 words ... 1½ minutes.

1 big thing: Labor market roars back

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

Wow: The U.S. economy added 916,000 jobs in this morning's March jobs report — huge momentum for the pandemic-slammed labor market.

Why it matters: It's the biggest hiring spree since last summer. Thank vaccinations and the broader economic reopening.

Plus: Job gains in both January and February were even higher (+156,000) than previously reported.

Details: The leisure and hospitality sector (think restaurants, bars, etc.) was the standout with 280,000 new jobs added. But there were broad gains across other industries — construction, manufacturing — too.

  • The unemployment rate for workers without a high school degree dropped from 10.1% to 8.2% — a sharp decline.
  • It also dropped for all racial and ethnic groups, except Asian Americans. Their unemployment rate jumped by nearly a full percentage point.

What to watch: Whether the millions of workers out of the labor force come off the sidelines.

  • Roughly 347,000 came back last month — but there are still 3.8 million fewer people in the labor force compared to the beginning of last year.

The bottom line: These numbers show there's still more than enough slack in the labor market to support extremely strong jobs growth through the rest of 2021 and beyond.

  • Employment gains slowed down at the end of 2020, but with $1.9 trillion of new stimulus on the way, there’s no reason they can’t pick back up again with gusto.
  • The road ahead: Eight or so more months like March would suffice to bring us back to pre-pandemic employment levels.

Thanks for reading, and see you next month!