The numbers: Restaurants and other businesses hired the most workers in March in seven months, as the US added 916,000 new jobs, signaling that the economy is poised for a period of rapid expansion again. Employment accelerated after the weather warmed and a decline in coronavirus cases allowed states to relax trade restrictions. Rising vaccination rates gave Americans more freedom to venture out to eat, attend a game, or engage in other activities that they would have avoided at the height of the pandemic.
The massive federal stimulus, including checks for $ 1,400 for most households, also gave people more money to spend. Read: US Adds 517,000 Private Sector Jobs, ADP Says, As Economy Speeds Up Economists predict even stronger hires in the coming months if most Americans get vaccinated and coronavirus wears off, though it will take a while to know for sure. Covid-19 cases have increased slightly in recent weeks for the first time in several months. Read: Consumer Confidence Soars To Pandemic High The official unemployment rate, meanwhile, fell to 6% from 6.2%, the Labor Department said on Friday. However, the official rate does not capture more than 4 million people who lost their jobs last year and left the workforce. Economists set the true unemployment rate above 9%. The Big Picture: The skies have cleared for the economy after a record spike in coronavirus cases clouded the outlook for the winter. Growth is likely to accelerate during the spring and early summer if vaccines do their job and keep the coronavirus at bay. Yet even in the best of cases, the US is unlikely to regain the more than 8 million jobs that are still missing a year after the onset of the pandemic. The destruction caused by the pandemic, including lost jobs and closed businesses, is likely to continue for a few years. See: A visual look at how an unfair pandemic has reshaped work and home Market reaction: The Dow Jones DJIA Industrial Average, + 0.52% and S&P 500 SPX, + 1.18% closed higher Thursday to end a shorter week . Markets are closed on Fridays due to the Good Friday holiday.