The U.S. labor market surprisingly rose again in February as the economy gained strength in the services sector.
According to the Labor Department, the leisure and hospitality sector added 105,000 jobs last month, about one-third of the total of 311,000 jobs.
The health and social care segment was another big contributor, adding nearly 63,000 jobs.
Leisure and hospitality were consistently among the strongest sectors as the US economy recovered from the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw many bars and restaurants close across the country. Food and beverage businesses added 70,000 jobs last month.
However, the sector is still 2.4% below pre-pandemic employment levels, according to the Labor Department.
“We’re still short,” said Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group. “We still don’t have people working in hotels and restaurants like in 2019. That is why we are still adding jobs at a high rate in these regions.”
However, there are weaknesses in other areas of the economy. The 25,000 job losses in information technology reflected the impact of layoffs at technology companies, while transportation and manufacturing jobs also retreated.
Transportation and warehouse jobs are now down 42,000 since October, according to the Labor Department.
“We’re seeing a bifurcation of the economy between the goods and services sectors,” Rick said.