Report: The BLS Employment Situation — February 2021
In this monthly blog post we’ll report on BLS Employment Situation data as it is released, for these industries: construction, manufacturing (including durable and non-durable goods), retail trade, warehousing and storage, real estate rental and leasing services, professional and business services (including legal services, accounting and bookkeeping services, architectural and engineering services, computer systems design and related services, and scientific research and design services, administrative and support services, and administrative support services – employment services), health care, leisure and hospitality, and government.
You can always find the full Employment Situation report on the BLS website.
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). Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 379,000 in February but is down by 9.5 million, or 6.2 percent, from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020. In February of this year, most of the job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, with smaller gains in temporary help services, health care and social assistance, retail trade, and manufacturing. Employment declined in state and local government education, construction, and mining.
BLS Summaries by Industry
Construction: Employment in construction fell by 61,000 in February, largely reflecting declines in nonresidential specialty trade contractors (-37,000) and heavy and civil engineering construction (-21,000). Severe winter weather across much of the country may have held down employment in construction. Employment in the industry is 308,000 below its level a year earlier.
Manufacturing: Manufacturing employment increased by 21,000 over the month, led by a gain in transportation equipment (+10,000). Employment in manufacturing is down by 561,000 over the year.
Retail Trade: Retail trade added 41,000 jobs in February. Job growth was widespread in the industry, with the largest gains occurring in general merchandise stores (+14,000), health and personal care stores (+12,000), and food and beverage stores (+10,000). These gains were partially offset by a loss in clothing and clothing accessories stores (-20,000). Following steep job losses in March and April of 2020 (-2.4 million jobs over the 2 months combined), retail trade has added 2.0 million jobs from May through February.
Warehousing and Storage: In February, employment changed little in warehousing and storage.
Real Estate Rental and Leasing Services: N/A
Professional and Business Services: Within professional and business services, temporary help services added 53,000 jobs in February but is down by 175,000 from a year ago.
Health Care: Employment in health care and social assistance increased by 46,000 in February. Health care employment was little changed over the month (+20,000), following a large decline in the prior month (-85,000). In February, job gains in ambulatory health care services (+29,000) were partially offset by losses in nursing care facilities (-12,000). Employment in social assistance rose by 26,000, mostly in individual and family services (+18,000). Employment in health care and social assistance is down by 909,000 over the year.
Leisure and Hospitality: In February, employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 355,000, as pandemic-related restrictions eased in some parts of the country. About four-fifths of the increase was in food services and drinking places (+286,000). Employment also rose in accommodation (+36,000) and in amusements, gambling, and recreation (+33,000). Employment in leisure and hospitality is down over the year by 3.5 million, or 20.4 percent.