The private sector saw a significant boost in jobs in March, adding 517,000 new positions, according to payroll company ADP.
“We saw marked improvement in March’s labor market data, reporting the strongest gain since September 2020,” said Nela Richardson, ADP’s chief economist.
The increase was the highest since September, when the private sector added 821,000 jobs before falling to more moderate levels through the autumn and winter, including a month of job loss in December.
The lion’s share of the new jobs, 437,000, or 85 percent, came from a rebound in the service sector, which was hardest hit during the pandemic.
The uptick included an increase of 169,000 leisure and hospitality jobs, such as restaurant work, a 92,000 increase in trade, transportation and utility jobs, and 68,000 education and health jobs.
On the good side, manufacturing and construction saw notable increases as well.
“We are continuing to keep a close watch on the hardest hit sectors but the groundwork is being laid for a further boost in the monthly pace of hiring in the months ahead,” Richardson said.
The jobs returned as vaccinations ramped up and states moved to ease restrictions, sometimes against the advice of health experts. The reopenings have also coincided with an increase in COVID-19 cases, which had been steadily falling since January.
They also coincide with passage of President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which included $1,400 stimulus checks that likely spurred a degree of increased demand.
But the economy remains more than 9 million jobs below its pre-COVID-19 levels and would need many months of consistent blockbuster numbers to fill the hole.
The Labor Department’s official jobs report for the month is due Friday.