By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON, Apr 2 (Reuters) – US employers hired more workers than expected in March, motivated by the advance of vaccinations against COVID-19 and by the new fiscal aid in the face of the pandemic promoted by the Government, cementing expectations of that there will soon be a new economic boom.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 916,000 positions last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. It was the largest increase since last August.

February data was revised up to indicate that 468,000 jobs were created in the month instead of the 379,000 previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected nonfarm payrolls to increase by 647,000 jobs in March. The unemployment rate fell to 6% from 6.2% in February. The unemployment rate has been affected by people who indicate that they have “work but are absent from their jobs.”

Friday’s report – watched closely by analysts – marks a painful anniversary for the US job market.

The March 2020 employment report was the first to reflect the mandatory lockdowns of non-essential workers, such as restaurants, bars and gyms, to contain the coronavirus pandemic that was just beginning to hit the West.

Almost 1.7 million jobs were lost that month, and another 20.7 million jobs disappeared in April. Economists estimate that it could take at least 2 years to recover the more than 22 million jobs that were lost during the pandemic.

As of Thursday morning, the United States had administered 147.6 million doses of COVID vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The massive $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package approved by the White House in March is providing additional checks for $ 1,400 to households that qualify for federal benefits and new funding to businesses.

Economists expect job creation to average at least 700,000 positions per month in the second and third quarters. The figure, combined with the stimulus and $ 19 trillion in savings accumulated by families during the pandemic, should unleash powerful consumer demand in the months after.

(Report by Lucia Mutikani. Edited in Spanish by Marion Giraldo)

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