U.S. employers hired far more workers than expected in March 2021, as the accelerating pace of the Covid 19 vaccinations continued to fuel employment in leisure and hospitality and at state and local governments.
Construction industry also posted a strong March as the housing market remained healthy and building activity resumed following the winter months.
The Labor Department reported Friday that the total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 916,000 last month, the best monthly print since August. The unemployment rate continued its steady decline to 6%; the increase in total payroll employment was better than the net gain of 675,000 that economists surveyed by Dow Jones had predicted.
Although regular trading in the stock market will be closed on Friday due to the Good Friday holiday, Dow futures just before 9 a.m. were up more than 150 points. ET; CNBC studied the net changes by industry for March jobs based on the data contained in the employment report. Leisure and hospitality, which one year ago saw some of the worst of the pandemic's layoffs, had the largest net gain by far for the month at 280,000 jobs added.
Nearly two-thirds of the increase was in food services and alcohol places but added 64,000.
Arts, entertainment and recreation added. Though the strong hiring numbers for the sector in March follow an even bigger net gain of 384,000 in February, employment in leisure and hospitality has been down by 3.1 million or 18.5% since February 2020.