The U.S. economy recorded an increase of 431,000 jobs in March as COVID-19 concerns ease and more Americans seek work to combat the surging cost of living.
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 431,000 in March while the unemployment rate dipped to 3.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Economists surveyed by Dow Jones predicted the U.S. economy would add 490,000 jobs.
Recent gains in the labor market have allowed the U.S. economy to recover over 90% of the 22 million jobs lost during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, The New York Times reported.
“All the constraints on the labor supply that were prevailing in 2021 have really eased,” Lydia Boussour, an economist at Oxford Economics, told The Wall Street Journal, calling it a “really important factor in driving that next leg of the recovery and getting employment back to where it was before the pandemic.”
Job gains were most pronounced in the leisure and hospitality sectors, which added 112,000 jobs in March, according to the BLS. (RELATED: How Biden’s Tax Plan Could End Up Raising College Tuition)
“While the economy remains quite strong and I feel will power through the summer and beyond- price pressures are only gaining speed and this will place a burden on countless American families,” Clara Del Villar, the director of senior initiatives at FreedomWorks, told the DCNF.
More Americans are seeking jobs than earlier in the pandemic, with the labor force participation rate growing to 62.4% in March but still down from 70.2% in 2019, according to the BLS.
Many retirees are also returning to the labor force triggered by flexible work conditions, stock market turmoil and surging inflation. Roughly 3% of retired workers reentered the workforce in February, the highest level since March 2020.
Meanwhile, there were still almost 11.3 million job openings in February, while the number of Americans who quit their jobs increased to 4.4 million, highlighting strong demand for labor.
Friday’s jobs report will further push the federal reserve to more aggressively raise interest rates to combat the soaring price increases, Del Villar added.
“One can only hope the Fed acts decisively now to put on the brakes on monetary growth and a series of 50 basis point fed fund increases,” Del Villar told the DCNF. “Anything short of decisive Fed tightening can only lead to higher, lingering inflation resulting in an economic slowdown and a recession in the coming years.”
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