Health care was among the sectors adding jobs as both the employment total and the national unemployment rate rose in February.
The total nonfarm jobless rate crept up to 3.6%, even as employers added 311,000 jobs for the month, according to the February report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The total number of unemployed workers reached 5.9 million, although all the “measures have shown little net movement since early 2022,” said the latest report, which features preliminary nonfarm figures.
Among various job sectors, health care added 44,000 jobs in February, down from the average monthly increase of 54,000 jobs a month for the prior six months. Most of the jobs were added in hospitals (19,400) and nursing and residential care facilities, (13,70000).
The number of jobs in offices of physicians added 1,800 jobs from January to February for total employment of about 8.3 million. Offices of other health care practitioners added 6,600 jobs for the month, to a total of about 1.12 million.
Home health services added 5,300 jobs to grow to 1.57 million, and medical and diagnostic laboratories employment grew by 2,100 jobs to about 324,300 jobs. Employment dipped at other ambulatory health services (-2,900), offices of dentists (-900), and outpatient care centers (-800).
Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly added 9,600 jobs to grow to 940,300 workers, while skilled nursing care facilities added 5,400 jobs to reach 1.38 million employees, according to the BLS report. Other residential care facilities and residential facilities for development disabilities, mental health, and substance abuse both lost positions, -900 and -400, respectively.
Employment in leisure and hospitality remained below its pre-pandemic level of February 2020 by 410,000 jobs, or 2.4%. Even so, that sector added 105,000 jobs in February 2023, with food services and drinking places adding 70,000 workers and another 14,000 in accommodation, according to BLS.
Retail traded added 50,000 jobs, mostly in general merchandise retailers who added 39,000 jobs in February. Government employment grew by 46,000 jobs, with local government filling 37,000 posts, even though government overall remained below February 2020 levels by 376,000, or 1.6%.
Business and professional services added 45,000 jobs overall, with a gain of 12,000 jobs in management, scientific, and technical consulting services. Construction employment grew by 24,000 in February, while social assistance jobs increased by 19,000 last month, according to BLS figures.
The information industry lost 25,000 jobs, with film and sound recording employment down by 9,000 and telecommunications down 3,000 positions. Transportation and warehousing decreased by 22,000 jobs, including 9,000 jobs in truck transportation, with the sector down by 42,000 jobs since October last year.