Job growth will remain strong the rest of the year, as economic activity resumes in the wake of the pandemic. There will be plenty of positions to fill, since employment is still 8.4 million jobs below its prepandemic level. The food service industry is 1.8 million jobs shy of its pre-COVID level. Education: 1.2 million fewer jobs. Hotels, amusements, entertainment & recreation, manufacturing, and administrative staffing are each 500,000 or more jobs below normal. In fact, if some of the 4 million workers who left the labor force over the past year don’t return, some sectors may have trouble finding enough workers. Manufacturers are already reporting difficulties in hiring.
Employment surged by 916,000 net new jobs in March, as schools reopened and restaurant capacity expanded. Schools (+190,000 jobs), food service (+176,000), hotels (+40,000), and amusements (+41,000) accounted for half of the gain. Construction jobs jumped 110,000 thanks to warm weather, after a dismal February. Manufacturing added a robust 53,000 jobs. Clothing stores are reopening. Personal services are coming back.
All of this reopening activity pushed the unemployment rate down to 6.0%. The rate should continue to fall quickly, dropping to 5.0% or less by the end of the year.