Strong hiring in the leisure and hospitality, health care and professional and business services sectors helped job growth surge in February.
The leisure and hospitality sector, which the Covid-19 pandemic has hit especially hard, added more than 179,000 jobs in the second month of 2022. The gain represents the latest in a string of strong numbers for the sector, which includes restaurants, hotels, casinos and theme parks.
Within the sector, restaurants and bars added nearly 124,000 jobs while accommodation and lodging businesses tacked on another roughly 28,000.
Thanks to the widespread business closures in 2020, the sector is still short by 1.5 million jobs, or 9%, compared to where employment stood in February 2020.
Employment gains in the health-care and social services industry were also robust in February with the addition of about 94,000 jobs. Employment growth occurred in home health care services, private practices and other clinical offices. Employment in health care is down 1.9% from its level in February 2020.
Professional and business services, one of the broadest industries measured by the Labor Department, added 95,000 net positions last month. Among those, nearly 36,000 are classified as “temporary help services” workers, who are typically hired on short-term contracted basis.
Company managements and other enterprises added about 12,000 jobs last month, and consultants climbed by nearly 10,000.
Brian Deese, President Joe Biden’s director of the National Economic Council, applauded what he characterized as a strong jobs report.
“Overall, it’s a very strong report,” he said. “The gains in jobs were broad-based. … Americans are getting back to work, and there are signs they’re returning to the workplace.”
Deese, one of the president’s top economic advisors, added he wasn’t too concerned about stalled wage growth and that economists should assess each month’s jobs report in context.
The construction industry added 60,000 jobs in February after an otherwise anemic January. About 75% of that month-over-month pop came from the hiring of specialty trade contractors, with increases in both residential and nonresidential employment.
Depending on the work, such contractors perform a wide range of jobs including pouring cement, site preparation, plumbing and painting.
Transportation and warehousing, an industry scrutinized for potential supply-chain relief, increased by nearly 48,000 jobs last month. Over the month, hiring continued in warehousing and storage (10,700), couriers and messengers (9,400) and air transportation (6,900).
Employment in retail trade rose by nearly 37,000 in February, with gains in building material and garden supply stores (12,100), furniture and home furnishings stores (5,600), and gasoline stations (4,800).
— CNBC’s Crystal Mercedes contributed reporting.