Economic Report: ‘There is finally real light at the end of the tunnel’ — economists react to strong March jobs report

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The March jobs report on Friday showed the U.S. economy regained 916,000 jobs last month, with the unemployment rate falling to 6% from 6.2%.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a gain of 675,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 6%.

See: U.S. gains 916,000 new jobs in March, signaling strengthening economy

Opinion: Why the drop in the unemployment rate to 6% doesn’t mean very much

Below are some initial reactions from economists and other analysts, as U.S. stock futures


traded higher following the data on nonfarm payrolls. Stock exchanges are closed for Good Friday.

Related: Easter holiday schedule could leave bond traders vulnerable on a blockbuster jobs day

And see: Friday’s jobs report released to a closed stock market—that’s only occurred 12 times since 1980

• “The better than expected 916,000 rebound in non-farm payrolls in March still leaves employment 8.4 million below its pre-pandemic peak from just over a year ago but, with the vaccination program likely to reach critical mass within the next couple of months and the next round of fiscal stimulus providing a big boost, there is finally real light at the end of the tunnel. Reflecting the lifting of coronavirus-related restrictions, leisure & hospitality employment increased by 280,000 last month, although it is still down by 3.1 million from the pre-pandemic peak.” — Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics

• “Job gains were strongest in leisure & hospitality, reflecting reopenings in many states, but we also saw solid increases in education, government and construction (the latter of which was held back by weather disruptions in the prior month). Aggregate hours worked surged by 1.5%, following a weather-driven decline in the prior month. Even after today’s strong gain, however, payrolls remain 8.4 million (or 5.5%) below their pre-pandemic peak, with big holes still to fill in the hardest hit services areas.” — Andrew Grantham, senior economist at CIBC

• “Job growth finally shifting into higher gear … The weakness caused by weather in February seems to have fully reversed itself this month. However, one thing that sticks out to us is that we had expected more of this month’s hiring to be concentrated in leisure & hospitality based on the reopening of the service sector in many places. The relatively small rebound here, in a labor-intensive sector, suggests to us that there will be an even bigger rebound in hiring in the months ahead.”— Thomas Simons and Aneta Markowska, economists at Jefferies

• “Huge number of jobs added, both in private and public sector. The rebound of leisure and hospitality and jump in construction has meant that Hispanic unemployment is edging down after a historic high. Black unemployment down a bit, but still higher than two months ago.” — Kate Bahn, director of labor market policy and economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth

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