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Employment Summary for March 2021

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) today reported total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 916,000 in March, significantly above consensus estimates. Unemployment rate fell to 6.0 percent, down considerably from its April 2020 high of 14.7 percent.

Job growth was widespread, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, education, and construction.

The BLS reported 21.0 percent of all non-farm employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, down from 22.7 percent in February. These data refer to employed persons who teleworked or worked at home for pay at some point in the last four weeks specifically because of the pandemic.

Analysts are anticipating continued job growth acceleration in coming months as the confluence of vaccinations, stimulus spending and pent-up consumer demand power the economy.

In March, employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 280,000, as pandemic-related restrictions steadily eased in many parts of the country. Nearly two-thirds of the increase was in food services and drinking places (+176,000). Job gains also occurred in arts, entertainment, and recreation (+64,000) and in accommodation (+40,000).

In March, employment increased in both public and private education, reflecting the continued resumption of in-person learning and other school-related activities. Total jobs increased by 190,000.

Construction added 110,000 jobs in March, following job weather-related losses in the previous month. Employment growth in the industry was widespread in March, with gains of 65,000 in specialty trade contractors, 27,000 in heavy and civil engineering construction, and 18,000 in construction of buildings.

Employment in professional and business services rose by 66,000 over the month. In March, employment in administrative and support services continued to trend up (+37,000). Employment also continued an upward trend in management and technical consulting services (+8,000) and in computer systems design and related services (+6,000).

Manufacturing industry and the transportation and warehousing sectors saw employment growth of 101,000 in March. Of note, since the pre-pandemic month of February 2020, employment in couriers and messengers is up by 206,000 (or 23.3 percent) as consumers opted for at-home delivery of an expanding list of items.

Employment in wholesale trade increased by 24,000 in March, while retail trade added 23,000 jobs.

Financial activities added 16,000 jobs in March. Job gains in insurance carriers and related activities (+11,000) and real estate (+10,000) more than offset losses in credit intermediation and related activities.

Employment in healthcare and information changed little in March.

Just last month we noted that all indicators were showing that 2021 will be the year for meaningful recovery. Based on the activity PrincetonOne has been seeing with our clients, the hike in job growth didn’t come as too much of a surprise. Our activity levels continue to be encouraging. As we enter into the middle of April, we are still seeing considerable improvement and anticipate the upward trend continuing through Spring.

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