US Companies Add Most Jobs in Six Months in March

Woman reading newspaper at restaurant

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U.S. companies added the most jobs in six months in March, potentially signaling a turning point in the labor market’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Private sector employment increased by 517,000 jobs in March, the largest monthly increase since September and almost three times February’s growth, according to data released Wednesday by payroll firm ADP. Service-providing companies accounted for most of the gain, led by 169,000 jobs in the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector. The overall growth was roughly in line with the median forecast of economists cited by Moody's Analytics.

ADP’s report is used by some as a leading indicator of the government jobs report that typically follows two days later, though ADP’s data isn’t calculated the same way and doesn’t include government employees. Increasingly optimistic about the country’s rebound prospects, analysts are predicting this spring will be a turning point for both economic growth and employment. Aided by government stimulus and an increasingly vaccinated public, the labor market could soon be adding almost 1 million jobs a month, some economists say. The median forecast for March—data for which the government will report Friday—is 630,000 jobs, well above the 379,000 in February.