America’s employers extended a streak of robust hiring in March, adding 431,000 jobs in a sign of the economy’s resilience in the face of a still-destructive pandemic and the highest inflation in 40 years.
The Labor Department’s report Friday showed that last month’s job growth helped reduce the unemployment rate to 3.6%, the lowest level since the pandemic erupted two years ago.
Despite the inflation surge, persistent supply bottlenecks, the damaging effects of COVID-19 and now a war in Europe, employers have added at least 400,000 jobs for 11 straight months.
Inflation may be starting to weaken consumer spending, the main driver of the economy. Americans increased their spending by just 0.2% in February, down from a much larger gain in January.
Still, the job market has continued to rebound with unexpected speed from the coronavirus recession. Job openings are at a near-record level, and applications for unemployment benefits have dropped to near their lowest point since 1969.