One day before the Senate passed President Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion stimulus package on Saturday, the latest jobs report showed encouraging signs of recovery, as the U.S. economy added 379,000 jobs in February, exceeding expectations.
The leisure and hospitality sector led the job gains in February, adding 355,000 payrolls, with restaurants and drinking places accounting for the lion’s share of that total (+286,000). As several states eased restrictions and the vaccine rollout continued, many Americans dipped their toes back into normal life, enjoying a meal or a drink outside after months of withdrawal.
Despite the latest upward trend, the leisure and hospitality sector remains the most heavily affected by the pandemic-induced jobs crisis. According to the BLS’ latest Employment Situation Summary, the number of jobs in leisure and hospitality still trails pre-pandemic levels by 3.5 million.
As the following chart shows, the jobs recovery in general is going slower than many people had originally hoped. After a quick initial rebound, job gains slowed to a crawl in recent months, as a third wave of COVID-19 rolled over the country. 12 months into the pandemic, total nonfarm employment is still 9.5 million jobs short of February 2020 levels.
This chart shows the cumulative change in total nonfarm employment in the United States since February 2020.
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