February 2021 Jobs Report Shows 379,000 Jobs Added in COVID-19 Recovery

Jobs Report

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Total nonfarm employment in the United States rose by 379,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dipped slightly to 6.2 percent in February 2021 as the labor market continued to reflect the ongoing recovery from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The BLS jobs report for February 2021 revealed the number of unemployed people decreased to 10.0 million. Most job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, temporary help services, health care and social assistance, retail trade, and manufacturing. Employment declined in government education, construction, and mining.

  • Leisure and hospitality employment increased by 355,000 jobs in February 2021 but is down over the year by 3.5 million jobs.
  • Professional and business services employment in temporary help services added 53,000 jobs in February 2021 but is down by 175,000 jobs from a year ago.
  • Health care and social assistance employment increased by 46,000 jobs in February 2021 but is down by 909,000 jobs over the year.
  • Retail trade employment added 41,000 jobs in February 2021. Following 2.4 million jobs lost in March 2020 and April of 2020, retail trade has added 2 million jobs from May 2020 through February 2021.
  • Manufacturing employment increased by 21,000 jobs in February 2021 but is down by 561,000 jobs over the year.
  • Local government education lost 37,000 jobs and state government education lost 32,000 jobs in February 2021.
  • Construction employment fell by 61,000 jobs in February 2021 and is 308,000 jobs below its level a year earlier.
  • Mining employment shed 8,000 jobs in February 2021 and has lost 153,000 jobs since an employment peak in January 2019.
  • Employment changed little in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and other services in February 2021.

The jobs report showed the change in employment for December 2020 was revised from 227,000 jobs lost to 227,000 jobs lost, while January 2021 was revised from 49,000 jobs added to 166,000 jobs added. With these revisions, gains in December 2020 and January 2021 were 38,000 jobs higher than previously reported.

As in previous months, some workers affected by the pandemic who should have been classified as unemployed on temporary layoff were instead misclassified as employed but not at work. However, the share of
misclassified responses was highest in the early months of the pandemic and has been lower in recent months.

Since March 2020, the BLS has published an estimate of what the unemployment rate might have been had misclassified workers been included among the unemployed. Repeating this same approach, the seasonally adjusted February 2021 unemployment rate would have been 0.5 percentage point higher than reported.

The jobs report is usually released on the first Friday of every month at www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm. The jobs report for March 2021 will be released on Friday, April 2, 2021. More information about the February 2021 jobs report is at www.bls.gov/covid19/employment-situation-covid19-faq-february-2021.htm.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a deadly respiratory illness that spreads from person to person. As of March 5, 2021, there are more than 115 million global cases and 2.5 million global deaths, while the United States leads the world with more than 28.8 million cases and 520,000 deaths, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.

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