U.S. employers expanded payrolls by 916,000 jobs last month, according to the March jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These gains outpace many analysts’ expectations. The BLS notes that these improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that the COVID-19 pandemic had curtailed.

Since the start of 2021, the U.S. economy has seen employment increase by more than 1.6 million jobs. That number includes revised figures from the BLS for January and February, which show that 156,000 more jobs were added during those two months combined than previously reported.

Several industries saw notable job gains in March

Employers in the leisure and hospitality sector led the way, adding 280,000 jobs last month as pandemic-related restrictions continued to ease in parts of the country.

The BLS also reports that employment in government rose by 136,000 positions in March.

In addition, employers in the education and health services sector expanded their payrolls by 101,000 positions. And job gains in the construction industry in March reached 110,000, according to the BLS.

These sectors experienced payroll expansion last month, as well:

  • Professional and business services: 66,000 jobs added
  • Manufacturing: 53,000 jobs added
  • Transportation and warehousing: 47,500 jobs added
  • Other services: 42,000 jobs added
  • Wholesale trade: 23,700 jobs added
  • Retail trade: 22,500 jobs added
  • Financial activities: 16,000 jobs added

Unemployment rate dips to 6.0%

The national unemployment rate was 6.0% in March, down from 6.2% in February.

The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers also declined last month, to 3.7%, edging down slightly from 3.8% in February. These professionals are the most highly sought by employers.

Stay up to date on the latest hiring trends

Robert Half’s report on The Demand for Skilled Talent shows how economic and conditions and employment are influencing staffing and management strategies in 2021. Get insights into hiring trends and top positions — plus tips on how to support your staff during challenging times.

You can check out all the data on the Robert Half website.