The U.S. economy is on the road to recovery post-pandemic: a new Labor Department report shows that employers added 916,000 new jobs in March, marking the biggest economic gain since August 2020 and defying economists’ predictions for a 647,000 increase in jobs.

This increase even helped boost sectors that were most affected by pandemic shutdowns, such as restaurants and bars, which added 176,000 jobs last month. State and local education jobs rose by 126,000; hotels and accommodations by 40,000; performing arts, spectator sports and amusement parks by 64,000. Additionally, construction and delivery services continued to thrive, each reporting big gains.

However, the country still has a long way to go, and it could take years before the U.S. returns to pre-pandemic employment levels. The U.S. economy still has 8.4 million fewer jobs than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, here’s the good news: over half of the 22 million jobs that were cut by U.S. employers in March and April 2020 have been recovered.

Ashworth may be on to something, especially seeing as the U.S. unemployment rate has improved, jumping from 6.2% in February to 6% in March. But these statistics don’t tell the whole story.

Nearly six million Americans are working part-time, a 1.5 million increase from pre-COVID times. This is most likely due to a decrease in the availability of full-time positions.

An individual can only be classified as “unemployed” if he or she is job-less yet actively looking for work. The percentage of jobless individuals who sought out work significantly decreased within the last month. A number of factors could discourage one from embarking on a job search, such as family obligations or lack of personal motivation.

Instead of solely relying on unemployment rate data, it may be useful to consider other economic measures, such as the employment-population ratio, which shows the percentage of employed adults in the U.S.

In March, 57.8% of the U.S. adult population had jobs. While this figure is only 3.3 percentage points lower than it was pre-pandemic, it actually ranks below even the worst statistics of the Great Recession.

 

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