America's employers unleashed a burst of hiring in March, adding 916,000 jobs in a sign that a sustained recovery from the pandemic recession is taking hold, a jobs report says.
The March increase - the most since August - was nearly double February's gain of 468,000, the US Labour Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate declined from 6.2 per cent to 6 per cent.
Even with last month's robust increase, the America's economy remains more than eight million jobs short of the number it had before the COVID-19 pandemic erupted a little over a year ago.
But with the recovery widely expected to strengthen, many forecasters predict enough hiring in the coming months to recover nearly all those lost jobs by year's end.
The increasingly bright outlook for the labour market follows a year of epic job losses, waves of coronavirus infections and small business closures.
Numerous signs suggest that the US economy is improving. Consumer confidence in March reached its highest level since the pandemic intensified.
Last month in the US, restaurants, hotels and bars - the sector that was most damaged by the virus - added 216,000 jobs.
Construction companies, aided by better weather after severe storms in February, gained 110,000. Manufacturers added 53,000. And professional and business services, which include such well-paying fields as engineering and architecture, gained 66,000.
In another encouraging sign, about 500,000 US women returned to the workforce last month and found jobs, in part a reflection of school re-openings around the country.
Women disproportionately quit jobs or stopped looking for work during the pandemic, in many cases because they had to care for children attending school online from home.
The $US1400 checks in President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion economic relief plan have sharply increased consumer spending, according to Bank of America's tracking of debit and credit cards.
Australian Associated Press