March Jobs Data: Strong Gains in Payrolls and for Entrepreneurship

By at 2 April, 2021, 10:07 am

by Raymond J. Keating-

The latest employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that March registered as a strong month in terms of recovering lost jobs, as well as gains in at least one measure of entrepreneurship.

Information from both surveys – i.e., the establishment survey and the household survey – pointed to solid employment gains.

+ 916,000

The establishment survey estimated that nonfarm payrolls increased by 916,000 in March 2021 compared to the previous month. While work obviously remains – with employment still down by 8.4 million versus the pre-pandemic peak in February 2020 –  this monthly increase in March was positive and most welcome.

Meanwhile, the household survey, which tends to better capture startup and small business activity, showed a gain of 609,000 in employment in March versus February. In addition, the labor force increased by 347,000 in March.

Also, the labor force participation rate inched up from 61.4 percent in February to 61.5 percent in March, and the employment-population ratio increased to 57.8 percent in March from 57.6 percent in February.

Again, while household survey employment in March 2021 was still down by 7.9 million versus February 2020, this significant gain in March is encouraging.

Solid Self-Employment News  

Finally, there was some good news on the entrepreneurship front. In particular, the number of unincorporated self-employed workers (seasonally adjusted) jumped by 378,000 in March vs. February, reaching 9.876 million. That actually was the highest level since March 2018.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED

Looking ahead, we need more months like March in terms of regaining and eventually growing employment. As long as matters continue to improve on the vaccinations front, and government doesn’t impose increased burdens on entrepreneurs, businesses and investors (the Biden administration’s proposed tax increases need to be rejected, for example, as well as efforts to highly regulate labor markets as favored by organized labor), then we should expect this recovery to continue.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


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