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April Employment Outlook

April 5, 2021
min read
Michael Vaynerman

There are a few numbers that everyone is paying attention to right now. Vaccination numbers and COVID-positive rates, which show us how quickly herd immunity is spreading and when our lives might go “back to normal” are at the top. But the key indicators for our employment market - the unemployment rate, the number of people hiring, and the industries that are hiring - are equally important.

In the month of March, employment in the U.S. rose by more than 900,000, driving the unemployment rate down to 6.0%. This is the closest we’ve come to the 3-4% unemployment that dominated the past few years before the pandemic. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics attributes the growth directly to the resurrection of jobs that were impacted by COVID-19 closures.

The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics news release on Friday, April 2nd, offers insight into the labor market numbers from March and what may be coming next as businesses reopen and vaccinations spread. Check out our monthly infographic for a snapshot of the most important stats or scroll down for our key takeaways.

April’s Key Takeaways:

  1. The hospitality and leisure industry was once again a job growth leader. Hospitality jobs felt the greatest impact from 2020’s closures and tighter business restrictions, and employment in the industry is still down by 3.1 million jobs when compared to February 2020. However, it has been one of the strongest leaders on a monthly basis for employment recovery. Of the 916,000 jobs added in March, 280,000 (approximately 30%) were in hospitality and leisure, with two thirds of those gains coming from food services and drinking places. Hospitality and leisure has tended to grow or shrink in employment numbers in direct relation to government restrictions, so if restrictions continue to ease, we’ll likely see hospitality as the primary driver of jobs added over the next few months.
  2. Growth in the warehousing and transportation sector is skewing towards transportation. We’ve been keeping a close eye on warehousing and transportation over the past year, as warehousing and supply chains have become the most critical pieces of many companies and demand for warehouse workers and other frontline eCommerce workers has skyrocketed. While 2020’s job growth was heavily focused on those warehousing professionals, as well as couriers and messengers, we’re now seeing the growth in the industry come more from transportation. Transit and air transportation combined are still down more than 20% compared to pre-pandemic levels, primarily due to the impact of COVID-19, so it is likely that those portions of the industry could dominate employment gains over the next few months.
  3. The pandemic’s impact on job searching is declining. Since the start of the pandemic, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been directly reporting on the number of people unable to work because of the impact of COVID-19 on their employer and those prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic. Both of these measures are continuing their decline. In March, 11.4 million people reported being unable to work because of lost business for their employer (down from 13.3 million in February) and 3.7 reported being prevented from looking for work (down from 4.2 million in February). These continuing declines should be exciting for businesses in particular, as the 3.7 million workers prevented from job searching could be a nice influx of candidates for employers looking to hire.

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