U.S. nonfarm payrolls were much stronger than expected in March, up 916,000, versus the Bloomberg consensus forecast of 660,000. February payrolls were also revised higher reflecting a 468,000 gain. As the economy starts to reopen, payrolls in the leisure and hospitality sector showed the strongest gains adding another 280,000 jobs. As expected, the unemployment rate declined to 6.0% in March from 6.2% in February. The participation rate increased in March to 61.5% from 61.4% last month but remains below pre-pandemic levels. Although the employment picture continues to improve, payrolls are approximately 8.4 million below the 152.5 million level prior to the pandemic. The U-6 underemployment rate, which includes those who are marginally attached to the labor force and employed part time for economic reasons, declined to 10.7% in March from 11.1% in February. Another strong economic indicator released this weak was the Institute of Supply Management’s (ISM) monthly manufacturing survey. March ISM increased to a 64.7% reading, the highest level since December of 1983. In addition, manufacturing employment increased by 53,000 jobs last month, the biggest increase of manufacturing employment since last September.

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