Job gains in February exceeded many economists’ expectations, with employers adding 379,000 positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Since the start of 2021, the U.S. economy has seen overall employment increase by 545,000 jobs. That number includes revised figures from the BLS for January, which show that 117,000 more jobs were added during that month than previously reported.
Leisure and hospitality led payroll expansion in February
Employers in the leisure and hospitality sector added 355,000 jobs last month, as pandemic-related restrictions eased in some parts of the country.
The following sectors also saw notable job gains during February:
- Professional and business services: 63,000 jobs added (including 52,700 positions in temporary help services)
- Education and health services: 44,000 jobs added
- Retail trade: 41,100 jobs added
- Manufacturing: 21,000 jobs added
- Other services: 10,000 jobs added
According to the BLS, employment in other major industries — including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and financial activities — changed little last month. Sectors that experienced significant payroll contraction in February include government and construction.
Unemployment rate dips slightly to 6.2%
The national unemployment rate was 6.2% in February, down from 6.3% in January.
The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers — the professionals most highly sought by employers — was 3.8% last month, down from 4.0% in January.
Stay up to date on the latest hiring trends
Get insights into how staffing and management strategies are changing in 2021 with Robert Half’s report on The Demand for Skilled Talent. See the latest hiring trends and what positions are most in demand — plus tips on how to support your staff members during challenging times.
You can check out all the data on the Robert Half website.