The U.S. employment report for March highlights this week’s economic data.
China’s official purchasing managers index for manufacturing is expected to show that activity has been rebounding in March following disruptions related to Lunar New Year holidays in February. China’s industrial sector led its economic recovery from the coronavirus shocks last year, but factory production last month posted its slowest rate of expansion in nine months.
U.S. applications for unemployment benefits fell to their lowest level of the pandemic in mid-March, a trend expected to continue as stronger hiring and another round of government stimulus drive an economic revival. Economists are forecasting a fresh pandemic low for jobless claims in the week ending March 27, though weekly figures have proven volatile.
The Institute for Supply Management’s March survey of purchasing managers at U.S. factories is expected to show another solid month for new orders, output and employment. Manufacturing was quick to rebound from last spring’s severe downturn, helped along by strong demand for consumer and capital goods. The downside: supply-chain bottlenecks, increasing delivery times and rising input prices.
U.S. employers are expected to add hundreds of thousands of jobs and the unemployment rate is expected to tick lower in March. Robust hiring would be a sign the economy continues to heal after severe pandemic-related disruptions in the spring and start-and-stop efforts to reopen businesses amid Covid-19 outbreaks. But even with another month of strong employment gains, the U.S. will still have millions fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic struck, underscoring widespread dislocation and an incomplete recovery.