US economy sees solid job growth in March as payrolls jump by 431,000
U.S. job growth continued at a brisk clip in March, suggesting the labor market is still strong as it confronts the highest inflation in four decades, global supply chain constraints and new headwinds from the Russian war in Ukraine.
The Labor Department said in its monthly payroll report released Friday that payrolls in March rose by 431,000, missing the 480,000 jobs forecast by Refinitiv economists. The unemployment rate, which is calculated based on a separate survey, fell to 3.6%, the lowest level since February 2020.
Job gains were broad-based, with the biggest increases in leisure and hospitality (112,000), professional and business services (102,000) and retail (49,000).
“Although today’s job report was a little softer than expected, it still paints a picture of a steaming labor market,” said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors. “In fact, the final vestiges of COVID-19 are close to being fully eradicated from the economic data.”
Businesses are eager to onboard new employees and are raising wages in order to attract workers as they confront a labor shortage. There are roughly 11.3 million open jobs – the third-highest on record – while the pace of layoffs has moderated in recent months.
Friday’s payroll report also painted a brighter employment picture in the first two months of the year, with upward revisions to the jobs figure in January (504,000, up from the initially reported 481,000) and February (750,000, up from the initially reported 678,000). There are still about 1.6 million more out-of-work Americans than there were in February 2020, before the pandemic shut down broad swaths of the economy.