‘Finally there is real light at the end of the tunnel’: Economists react to strong March employment report

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The March employment report on Friday showed the US economy regained 916,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate fell to 6% from 6.2%. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected a gain of 675,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 6%. See: US Gains 916,000 New Jobs in March, Indicating a Strengthening Economy

Here are some initial reactions from economists and other analysts, as US stock futures ES00, + 0.48% YM00, + 0.51% traded higher on nonfarm payroll data. The stock exchanges are closed on Good Friday. Related: Easter holiday schedule could leave bond traders vulnerable on a highly successful workday. See: Friday’s jobs report was released on a closed stock market; that’s only happened 12 times since 1980 • “The better-than-expected rebound of 916,000 in nonfarm payrolls in March still leaves employment 8.4 million below its pre-pandemic peak of just over a year ago, but, given that The vaccination program is likely to reach critical mass in the coming months and the next round of fiscal stimulus will provide a big boost, Light at the End of the Tunnel. Reflecting the lifting of coronavirus-related restrictions, employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 280,000 last month, although it is still below 3.1 million from the pre-pandemic peak. “- Paul Ashworth, chief economist at Capital Economics in the US • “Labor earnings were strongest in leisure and hospitality, reflecting reopenings in many states, but we also saw solid increases in education, government and construction (the latter of the held back by weather disruptions in the previous month.) Total hours worked increased 1.5%, following a weather-driven decrease in the previous month. However, even after today’s strong gain, payrolls remain 8.4 million (or 5.5%) below their peak before the pandemic, with large gaps yet to be filled in the most affected service areas. ” – Andrew Grantham, CIBC Senior Economist • “Job growth is finally accelerating… The weakness caused by the weather in February appears to have completely reversed this month. However, one thing that strikes us is that we expected the majority of hiring this month to focus on leisure and hospitality as the service sector reopened in many locations. The relatively small rally here in a labor-intensive sector suggests to us that there will be an even bigger pickup in hiring in the coming months. “- Thomas Simons and Aneta Markowska, economists at Jefferies •” A lot of added jobs, both in the public and private sectors. The rebound in leisure and hospitality and the jump in construction has meant that Hispanic unemployment is declining after an all-time high. Black unemployment is down a bit, but still more than two months ago. “- Kate Bahn, director of labor market policy and economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth