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March jobs report: healthcare and government sectors added the most

Job growth grew faster than expected in March, thanks to a flurry of hiring within the government and the healthcare sectors, Labor Department data shows.

The U.S. economy continued to add jobs at a solid clip in March, as strong hiring in health care and the government helped to boost the overall payroll figure.

Employers added 303,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department said in its monthly payroll report released Friday, easily topping the 200,000 gain forecast by LSEG economists. The unemployment rate inched lower to 3.8%, from 3.9% in February.

"Gains were once again primarily driven by a handful of sectors, including healthcare, government, as well as leisure and hospitality, which are less sensitive to rising interest rates, maintain demand during a downturn, and faced severe post-pandemic labor shortages," said Noah Yosif, chief economist at the American Staffing Association.

US ECONOMY ADDS 303K JOBS IN MARCH, MUCH STRONGER THAN EXPECTED

The health care sector accounted for the biggest payroll gains in March, adding 72,300 jobs last month. Employment continued to trend upward in doctors' offices (5,100), home health care services (11,700), hospitals (27,100) and nursing and residential care facilities (17,700).

There were also sizable gains within the government last month, with payrolls growing by 71,000. The bulk of those jobs took place within the local government (49,000) and state government (13,000). Most of those jobs are within K-12 public schools and public colleges and universities.

Hiring in the leisure and hospitality sector was the third-biggest contributor to the headline job gain last month. The industry onboarded 49,000 employees in March. Most of the gains took place at bars and restaurants, which hired 28,300 workers, although there were also payroll increases within the amusement, gambling and recreation industries (9,600) and performing arts and spectator sports (7,000). 

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There were also notable gains within other industries, including construction (39,000) and retail trade (17,600).

However, hiring proved to be lackluster beyond those sectors of the economy in March.

Social assistance hired 9,000 workers in March, while wholesale trade saw its payroll rise by 8,500. Other payroll increases took place in financial activities (3,000), mining and logging (3,000) and transportation and warehousing (1,200).

"While the economy’s growth path appears resilient right now, this does not mean that there aren’t many people and corporations being negatively impacted by the Fed’s restrictive rates," said Rick Rieder, BlackRock CIO. "In fact, high rates are biting the economy in many ways, hitting lower-income cohorts and cyclical sectors the hardest."

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A handful of sectors of the economy saw hiring fall flat last month. Employment within both information and manufacturing were unchanged in March.

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