Jobs market ‘really strong’: Workforce strategist
EmployBridge chief workforce strategist Joanie Bily provides insight into February jobs reports, explaining that it indicates many industries are starting to hire again as some states reopen.
The U.S. economy created more jobs than expected in February, driven by bars and restaurants re-hiring tens of thousands of workers as coronavirus caseloads fell nationwide and states relaxed restrictions on business activity.
The Labor Department said in its Friday report that employers added 379,000 jobs last month — far outperforming consensus estimates from Refintiv economists of 182,000 — sending the unemployment rate down slightly to 6.2%.
"This suggests that even stronger gains are likely in the months ahead with more vaccinations and fewer infections, and more government reopening of in-person activity," said David Berson, Nationwide chief economist.
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Leisure and hospitality, one of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic, accounted for the bulk of the payroll gains last month, adding 355,000 new positions. Bars and restaurants saw employment rise by 286,000, while hotels jumped by 36,000. The amusement, gambling and recreation businesses added 33,000. Still, there are about 3.5 million fewer jobs in the industry than there was one year ago, before the crisis began.
Analysts say the industry will continue to recover in the months ahead as more Americans are vaccinated and warmer weather allows for more outdoor activity.
“Today’s jobs report sets an extremely positive tone as we move into warmer months and the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations accelerates,” said Tony Bedikian, head of global markets at Citizens Bank. “While the labor market still has a lot of ground to make up, we are in a different place than we were a year ago and the economy seems poised for a strong rebound.”
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Employment in health care and social assistance increased by 45,600 last month, with roughly half of the jobs — 28,900 — stemming from ambulatory health care services, and the other half — 25,700 — from social assistance.
Professional and business services jumped by 66,000, and retail trade increased by 44,000 (although clothing stores shed 20,000 jobs).
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There were other pockets of losses: Construction payrolls declined by 61,000 last month, with most losses concentrated in heavy and civil engineering construction and specialty trade contractors.
Losses in state and local government, which saw payrolls shrink by 86,000 last month, pared down the report's overall gains.
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