National employment, February 2021


The unemployment changed little in February 2021, but job growth was stronger than any month since October.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, reported the closely-followed jobs number rose in February 2021 by 379,000 jobs from the prior month. The unemployment rate was “little changed at 6.2 percent.” Compared to the economy before the onset of the pandemic, BLS wrote: “Both the unemployment rate, at 6.2 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 10.0 million, changed little in February. Although both measures are much lower than their April 2020 highs, they remain well above their pre-pandemic levels in February 2020 (3.5 percent and 5.7 million, respectively).”

The summary report from BLS may be found here.

Of note: BLS revised recent figures, which it does as more data becomes available. After revision, the job loss in December is 79,000, but the January figure was revised up by 117,000.

In its reporting, the Wall Street Journal wrote, “The U.S. economy is set up for a stronger recovery this spring after a February surge in hiring at restaurants and other hospitality businesses created the best monthly job growth since last fall. … In February, most of the job gains occurred in the leisure and hospitality sector, which includes restaurants, adding 355,000 jobs. There were smaller increases in temporary help services, manufacturing and healthcare. The gains reflect reduced business restrictions, more people receiving vaccines, a lower level of Covid-19 infections and a recent round of government aid to households and businesses, which boosted consumer spending early this year.” See February Hiring Sets Up Stronger Spring Recovery .

Axios reported: “Good news for your Friday: the economy added a whopping 379,000 jobs in February — far outpacing expectations. Why it matters: Virus cases eased in recent weeks and states lifted restrictions, helping fuel a hiring surge. It’s proof of how much control the pandemic has over the job market. The clearest signal: The bounce-back was largely driven by hiring in the leisure and hospitality sectors, which came even in the dead of winter.” See Vaccine dreams juice jobs report .

In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, Catherine Rampell wrote: “Yay for a strong jobs report, finally! And yet: No way, no how, should this news let Congress off the hook for more stimulus, whatever Republicans might say today.

Employers added 379,000 jobs in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. That was the fastest pace of hirings since October, and more gains than had been expected. Most of the hiring came in the struggling leisure and hospitality sector (primarily at restaurants and bars). The unemployment rate also ticked down, to 6.2 percent from 6.3 percent in January. This decline happened for the “right” reasons: that is, because more people got jobs, not because more people gave up looking for work and stopped being counted as unemployed. ” See Opinion: February’s jobs report doesn’t let Congress off the hook for more stimulus .

My interactive visualization is updated with this data and is available here.


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