Economy added nearly 1 million jobs in March

The national economy added a net 916,000 jobs in March on a seasonally-adjusted basis, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. March represented the third consecutive monthly employment gain, which resulted in the addition of more than 1.6 million jobs during the first quarter of 2021.

By all indications, the economy is off and running – with 2021 on track to post the largest calendar-year employment gain on record.

Job growth was broad-based across industries in March. Like February, the top job creator in March was the broadly defined leisure and hospitality sector. The eating and drinking place (+175,800), arts, entertainment and recreation (+64,000) and accommodations (+40,000)  sectors all expanded payrolls in March. 

Elsewhere in the private sector, the construction (+110,000), professional and business services (+66,000), educational services (+64,000), manufacturing (+53,000) and transportation and warehousing (+48,000) industries registered healthy gains in March.

Government payrolls also expanded in March, led local government education (+76,000) and state government education (+50,000). 

While these broad-based gains reflect an economy on a positive trajectory, employment remains well below pre-pandemic levels. As of March 2021, the economy was still 8.4 million jobs – or 5.5% – down from its February 2020 peak.

Track more economic indicators and read more analysis and commentary from the Association's chief economist Bruce Grindy.