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U.S. Job Report Reveals a Changing Tide for Employment

Despite some positive findings, several challenges may limit economic growth.


An Employment Situation Summary released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday reflected a growing economy throughout February despite the ongoing labor shortage.

Peter Dazeley | Getty Images

The report found that the U.S. economy gained 678,000 jobs during the month and unemployment decreased to 3.8% from 4%. Comparatively, unemployment was at 3.5% in February 2020, demonstrating a gradual trend towards pre-pandemic employment numbers.

The industries of leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, healthcare and construction led job gains in February. The report found that employment in leisure and hospitality alone increased by 179,000 jobs in February, signaling a revival of the sector. However, the industry is still down 9% compared to February 2020.

Related: Workers are 'Rage Quitting' Their Jobs as a Tightening Labor Market Forces Employers to Take Note of Unfavorable Conditions and Low Pay

February reflected a positive trend for people looking for work, as the number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job declined by 349,000 to 5.4 million. However, this number is still higher than February 2020's level of five million. The JOLTS report scheduled to release next Wednesday will give more insight into the side of the labor force that is leaving their jobs, both voluntarily and involuntarily.

But despite a positive report, analysts are wary of inflation and shortage struggles that will likely limit economical growth in the first half of the year. "The employment report will show the U.S. economy is healthy and continuing to move forward," Sung Won Sohn, a finance and economics professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, told Reuters. "But geopolitical problems will push inflation higher and have created a tremendous amount of uncertainties that will put a damper on economic growth and jobs going forward."

Related: A Record 4.5 Million People Quit Their Jobs in November: Report

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