WASHINGTON—Job growth boomed in March at the fastest pace since last summer, as stronger economic growth and an aggressive vaccination effort contributed to a surge in hospitality, construction and manufacturing jobs, the Labor Department reported last Friday. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 916,000 for the month while the unemployment rate fell to 6 percent.
Manufacturing saw a healthy gain of 53,000, with professional and business services adding 66,000 and construction increasing by 110,000 new jobs. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for an increase of 675,000 and an unemployment rate of 6 percent. The total was the highest since the 1.58 million added in August 2020.
Employment gains were broad-based, but were especially strong in areas hit worst by the pandemic. A more encompassing measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons dropped to 10.7 percent from 11.1 percent in February.
The labor force continued to grow after losing more than 6 million Americans at one point last year. Another 347,000 workers came back, bringing the labor force participation rate to 61.5 percent, compared to 63.3 percent in February 2020.
There are still nearly 7.9 million fewer Americans counted as employed than in February 2020, while the labor force is down 3.9 million.