The jobs report released Friday — which showed U.S. employers added 431,000 jobs in March on a seasonally adjusted basis — received a round of applause from many economists and labor market analysts, cooling off fears of a major slowdown in growth. And it spurred hope in the service sector that good times may be back again, and stick around more sustainably.
After experiencing nearly two years of stop-and-go reopenings — optimistic bursts of in-person activity as the virus ebbed, followed by fearful drawbacks as it rose again — experts say that the broadest swath of consumers yet may be returning to the sort of in-person activity that defined their Before Times lives: The sectors that cover travel, live entertainment, indoor dining, museums and historical sites, bars and other drinking places all saw major boosts.
While the headline numbers were largely unsurprising, there’s plenty of good news for job seekers “if you dig a little bit deeper and look at a sector level,” said Michelle Meyer, U.S. chief economist for the Mastercard Economics Institute. “A quarter of the job creation was in leisure and hospitality.” The sector added 112,000 jobs in March.
“There’s still more work to be done,” she said. Employment in leisure and hospitality is still down 1.5 million from prepandemic levels. But the robust growth “speaks to the fact that there’s still a lot of room for expansion in terms of labor market growth in that industry given what we’re seeing in consumer interest to go back and engage.”
Parts of the labor market that were already strong generally got stronger: Professional and business services added 102,000 jobs in March, and retail trade employment added 49,000 workers to its payrolls.