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A hiring sign is displayed outside the Cook Out restaurant on N. Main Street on Tuesday.

HIGH POINT — The area job market in March continued its welcome turn back towards levels of employment that held sway before the coronavirus pandemic emerged as a drain on the economy.

The jobless rate for the city of High Point declined from 7.1% in February to 5.9% last month. The rate is the lowest since the onset of the pandemic 13 months ago and contrasts with a jobless level of 16.8% in April 2020 after the COVID-19 restrictions began to put a full stranglehold on the economy.

Jobless rates fell in all 100 counties from February to March, the state Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

The number of workers employed statewide increased in March by 41,178 to

4.76 million, while the number of unemployed decreased by 50,361 to 229,665. Compared to March 2020, the number of workers employed statewide has increased 65,867, while the unemployed increased 35,708.

In Guilford County, the number of workers earning a paycheck increased by 2,400 from February to March, according to the Commerce Department.

One hard-hit sector that posted a turnaround in March is the leisure and hospitality fields. In the Greensboro-High Point metropolitan area, leisure and hospitality jobs increased by 1,000 over the month, or 3.3%. It was the largest gain for any local employment category for the month.

The recovery of jobs in the sector followed Gov. Roy Cooper’s easing of some emergency orders in late February, including ending a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew and allowing businesses such as bars, meeting and conference spaces and other entertainment venues to open at limited capacity.

Construction jobs also increased, said Mike McCully, associate professor of economics at High Point University. Locally, the construction field grew by 200 jobs for March, an increase of 1.3%.

“We have not fully rebuilt all the jobs from a year ago, but this month was a strong step towards that full recovery,” McCully told The High Point Enterprise.

336-888-3528 | @HPEpaul