State of the Facts
The unemployment rate edged down from 6.3% in January to 6.2% in February, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, employers added 379,000 jobs to payrolls, though total employment remained down by 9 million jobs — or around 6% — compared to February 2020.
About 22% of the 10 million unemployed people in February seeking work were on temporary layoff from their jobs. That is down from 78% in April 2020, when 18 million of the 23.2 million unemployed people had been laid off temporarily — as businesses made short-term cuts in the early uncertainty of the pandemic.
Compared to earlier months of the pandemic, unemployed Americans in February were more likely to be out of work permanently, with no position to return to. The median duration of unemployment increased from 15.3 weeks in January to 18.3 weeks in February. In February 2020, the median duration of unemployment was 9.3 weeks.
The sector leading February job gains was leisure and hospitality, which added 355,000 jobs between January and February. This sector recorded a total of 13.5 million jobs in February across businesses like hotels, restaurants, and recreation. Still, that was 20% lower than the 16.3 million jobs recorded in February 2020.
The retail sector added 41,000 jobs in February. The 15.2 million retail workers in February was just over 2% lower than the 15.6 million workers in February 2020.
As vaccinations continue and states adjust their pandemic restrictions, the jobs and economic situation may change further in the coming months. See more data on the pandemic and the state of the nation at the COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Hub.
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