US numbers may foreshadow Mass. retail sales surge (copy)

Tracy Casavant, left, owner of the Bitter Sweet Shoppe on Newbury Street in Boston, sells lemonade at her business in June 2020. Massachusetts employers added 12,800 jobs in March.

Massachusetts employers added 12,800 jobs in March and the state's jobless rate dropped to 6.8 percent from a revised 7 percent rate in February.

Notably, the leisure and hospitality sector, among the hardest hit by the pandemic impacts, gained 6,000 jobs last month. Since December 2020, Massachusetts has gained 70,400 jobs, but the state is still trying to claw back more of the jobs that vanished during the pandemic — federal estimates indicate Massachusetts lost 272,700 jobs from March 2020 to March 2021.

The pace of job gains last month slowed down compared to a revised gain of 19,700 jobs in February. Creating jobs and rethinking the future of work given the changes caused by the pandemic are among the priorities of state and local officials as they weigh different ways to allocate funds flowing to Massachusetts under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.