Unemployment Rate Drops to 6 Percent After U.S. Adds 916,000 Jobs in March

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The United States’ unemployment rate dropped to 6 percent, as companies start hiring more employees as coronavirus vaccines roll out and business restrictions start to lift.

Employers added 916,000 jobs in March, a huge increase from the 446,000 added in February and the highest amount since August, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That number also blew past economists’ expected increase of 675,000 jobs.

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Leisure and hospitality — which has been decimated by the pandemic — saw the biggest gains last month, with an increase of 280,000 jobs as COVID-19 restrictions eased nationwide, and people started to flock back to bars and eateries, according to the BLS. Nearly two-thirds of the gains in the sector came from food services and drinking establishments.

The job increases are expected to continue to increase in the future as more and more people get COVID-19 vaccines, states continue to roll back restrictions on businesses and companies start to return to the office.

But while March’s numbers were a positive sign that the country is starting to bounce back, they’re still far off from pre-pandemic levels. The country still has 9.7 million Americans unemployed as of March, 4 million more than in February 2020, according to the BLS. The unemployment rate is also 2.5 percentage points higher now than in February 2020.

And while the economy is starting to recover, it could take years in some places to return to pre-pandemic levels.

A report from the New York City Independent Budget Office said the city faces a “slow but fragile recovery” post-COVID-19, and doesn’t expect 2019 employment numbers or tax revenues to return until 2025.