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February jobs report tops estimates: 379K jobs added, unemployment falls to 6.2%

The U.S. economy added back the most jobs in fourth months in February. Yahoo Finance’s Brian Sozzi, Julie Hyman, Myles Udland, and Emily McCormick break down all the details.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: But first, we do want to get more details on that jobs report. And with us now is Emily McCormick to sort of break down what numbers we need to be watching. Emily?

EMILY MCCORMICK: Julie, a much stronger than expected jobs report for February coming out this morning. We saw non-farm payrolls rise by 379,000 for the month. That was much better than the 200,000 that had been expected.

At the same time, we also saw the unemployment rate unexpectedly tick down to 6.2%, still above where we were this time last year-- February 2020-- when the unemployment rate was at a 50-year low of 3.5%. But again, quite an improvement from the pre-pandemic high of nearly 15% from April last year. We also saw that tick lower in the unemployment rate coming alongside a labor force participation rate that stayed steady at 61.4%, so pointing to people actually reentering the labor market and the unemployment rate falling for the right reasons.

And taking a look here at these payroll gains by industry, I do want to highlight that some of the most badly beaten down pockets of the service economy saw the most notable payroll increases. Leisure and hospitality payrolls rose by 355,000 in February after declining by more than half a million between December and January. Now, those industries-- leisure and hospitality-- still down by about 3.6 million payrolls from pre-pandemic levels in February last year, but I do want to highlight some other industries as well. We saw gains in temporary health services positions rise by nearly 53,000 in February for a third straight monthly gain. We also saw retail, trade, and education health services payrolls each rise by more than 40,000.

Now, finally, I want to highlight the goods-producing sector. We did see that sector post a back-to-back month of net payroll declines with harsh winter weather weighing on many of these industries during the month. We saw construction payrolls down by 61,000 in February, but we did see manufacturing payrolls rise by 21,000 to more than reverse the drop that they saw in January. So overall, again, a much better than expected report here on payroll gains, as well as the employment rate for February. Julie?

JULIE HYMAN: Emily, thank you so much. Appreciate it.