The U.S. added 916,000 jobs in March, far exceeding expectations and offering a sign that the economy is strengthening even as the fight against the coronavirus pandemic continues. Heather Boushey, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, pointed to the American Rescue Plan as part of the reason for the drastic surge in added jobs.
Boushey said focusing on vaccine distribution and providing Americans with additional income in the form of stimulus checks were confidence boosters for the economy.
"We don’t want to make too much of any one-month trend, but this is certainly a step in the right direction. And, I think it reflects all of the work we have done to try to contain the pandemic and to get all of that aid and support out to so many millions of families all across the country," she told Cheddar.

Average Wages Drop

Though the report blew expectations out of the water by roughly 300,000 jobs, data shows that recently hired Americans are earning less than those who were added to payrolls in previous months. Average earnings fell by a tenth of a percentage point. Boushey attributed the decline to the surge in rehires of low-wage workers. Jobs in sectors like leisure and hospitality, education, and construction account for many of the added roles last month.
Analysts expect average wages to continue slipping as more local economies reopen and people in low-wage positions are rehired even as the Federal Reserve expects inflation to rise.
"The wage numbers in recent months have been elevated because so many workers who were in those face-to-face jobs in retail or in the leisure and hospitality sectors that make less than average were out of work. So, now that they’re coming back in, you’re seeing that affect the average numbers," Boushey said.
"We know that even pre-pandemic when we were still in the longest recovery in U.S. recorded history, we were not seeing the kinds of wage growth that we really needed to see for families in the bottom and the middle of the wage distribution," she further explained. "And so as we looked at the American Rescue Plan, as we look at the American Jobs Plan, a core goal is to make sure that we’re not just creating jobs but that we're creating good jobs and we’re focused on making sure that there are jobs that can support a family."

Unemployment Racial Disparities

However, there is concern that trending growth could be skewed in the April jobs report because of rising COVID-19 infections. As a result, Boushey said the Biden administration’s first priority is to contain the virus and ramp up vaccination efforts with the issue of economic growth second.
Data in the March jobs report shows there are continuing unemployment disparities in the Black and Latino communities, and Asian Americans saw the unemployment rate in their community grow nearly a full percentage point from February. Boushey said she will be watching "very closely" to see if that was a single-month event or it is the first sign of a greater trend, although she noted Asian American unemployment is currently about average when compared to the overall economy.
For the Biden administration, its American Rescue Plan, which was signed in mid-March, "was an important step forward" in closing the wealth gap for minorities. 
"If you go through the plan, there are so many pieces that are really targeted at making sure that we are creating those good jobs in all parts of our economy and that we are being really attentive to the inequities across communities, especially by race," she noted.