The US labor market surprised on the upside again in February, driven by continued strength in the service sectors of the economy.
The leisure and hospitality sector added 105,000 jobs last month, about a third of the 311,000 total jobs added, according to the Labor Department.
The health and social welfare segment was another major contributor, creating nearly 63,000 jobs.
Leisure and hospitality were consistently one of the strongest sectors as the US economy rebounded from the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw bars and restaurants shut down in large numbers across the country. Food and drink companies added 70,000 jobs last month.
However, the sector is still 2.4% below its pre-pandemic employment levels, according to the Labor Department.
“We’re still tight,” said Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group. “We still don’t have as many people in hotels and restaurants as we did in 2019, so we’re still adding jobs in those areas at a pretty feverish rate.”
However, there are some weaknesses in other parts of the economy. The decline of 25,000 information technology jobs shows the impact of layoffs at tech companies, while transportation and manufacturing jobs also fell.
According to the Labor Department, jobs in transportation and warehousing have fallen by 42,000 since October.
“We’re seeing a split in the economy between goods and services,” Rick said.