It’s been another blockbuster month on the jobs front with 678,000 jobs added in February, surprising economists with one of the largest gains since the beginning of the pandemic. One caveat is that this data was collected before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has affected the economic markets and gas prices, which we may find is reflected in the next economic summary.
This news comes as the omicron wave of the coronavirus seems to be abating and ushering in a new “endemic” phase of the virus, which is in turn spurring consumer demand for purchases and travel experiences.
There also seems to be some relief in terms of labor shortages: 82% percent of Americans ages 25 to 54 were either working or looking for work, which is only marginally below the labor participation rate pre-pandemic. Though the figure hasn’t fully recovered, it looks as though labor shortages are easing.
Key points from the February jobs report:
- Job openings are at a record high
- Layoffs are at a record low
- The unemployment rate fell below 4%
- Job gains were concentrated in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, health care, and construction
- We are beginning to see employers encourage workers to return to the office in large numbers
Substantial gains in hospitality and leisure
Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to increase, with a gain of 179,000 in February.
As in prior months, the biggest gainers were in food services and drinking places (+124,000) and accommodation (+28,000). Recent gains have help offset the overall losses in hospitality since February 2020. Overall, employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 1.5 million, or 9%.
Gains in business services
An enhanced need for temporary professional workers led job growth in professional and business services with an addition of 36,000 jobs in February. Management of companies and enterprises added 12,000 jobs, while there were also gains in management and technical consulting services (+10,000), and scientific research and
development services (+8,000).
The sector added nearly a hundred thousand jobs this month, and employment in professional and business services is 596,000 higher than in February 2020, largely in temporary help services (+240,000), computer systems design and related services (+154,000), and management and technical consulting services (+152,000).
Health care adds jobs
The gain in health care employment was reflected in 64,000 hired in February. These gains were concentrated in the fields of home health care, physicians’ offices, and offices of other health practitioners.
Good news for the retail jobs sector
Employment in retail trade rose by 37,000 in February, with gains in building material and garden supply stores (+12,000), furniture and home furnishings stores (+6,000), and gasoline stations (+5,000). Retail trade employment is 104,000 above its level in February 2020.
Catch Up With Previous Jobs Reports
- January’s strong growth despite Omicron
- Promising news for hospitality in December
- November’s mixed picture
- October’s robust gains
- A slower-than-expected report in September
- The summer‘s roaring recovery trajectory
- Better than expected growth in June, especially in travel
- Strong signs of recovery in May
- An anemic April jobs report