Strong hiring in the leisure and hospitality, healthcare, and professional and business services sectors contributed job growth spurt in February.
The leisure and hospitality sector, which the Covid-19 pandemic has hit particularly 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 hospitality and lodging businesses added about 28,000 more.
Thanks to widespread business closures in 2020, the sector is still short of 1.5 million jobs, or 9%, compared to employment 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. Growth occurred in home care services, private practices and other clinical practices. Health care employment is down 1.9% from its February 2020 level.
Professional and business services, one of the broadest industries measured by the Labor Department, added 95,000 net jobs last month. Of these, nearly 36,000 are classified as “temporary help service” workers, who are usually hired on a short-term contract basis.
Corporate management and other businesses added about 12,000 jobs last month, and consultants increased by almost 10,000.
Brian Deese, director of President Joe Biden’s National Economic Council, applauded what he called strong jobs data.
“Overall, it’s a very strong report,” he said. “Jobs gains have been widespread. … Americans are returning to work, and there are signs that they are returning to the workplace.”
Deese, one of the president’s top economic advisers, added that he wasn’t overly 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 this month-over-month population came from the hiring of trade contractors, with increases in both residential and non-residential employment.
Depending on the job, these contractors do a wide range of work, including cement pouring, site preparation, plumbing, and painting.
Transportation and warehousing, an industry scrutinized for potential supply chain relief, increased by nearly 48,000 jobs last month. During the month, hiring continued in warehousing and storage (10,700), couriers and messengers (9,400) and air transport (6,900).
Retail trade employment increased by nearly 37,000 in February, with gains in building and garden supply stores (12,100), furniture and home furnishings stores (5,600) and service stations (4,800).
— CNBC’s Crystal Mercedes contributed reporting.