Food and beverage stores added 15,000 jobs in January, beating the 8,000 jobs the sector added in December, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) monthly jobs report.
Overall, the U.S. unemployment rate ticked down 0.4% in January to 6.3%, though nonfarm payroll increased by only 49,000 jobs. Professional and business services job gains were partially offset by employment losses in other industries, including leisure and hospitality, retail overall, and transportation and warehousing. "The labor market continued to reflect the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it," the bureau's news release stated.
Grocery stores and health/personal-care stores were bright spots in an otherwise subdued month for retail. Employment at general merchandise stores slid by 38,000 jobs in January; nonstore retailers shed 15,000 jobs. Overall, retail trade lost 38,000 jobs for the month after adding 135,000 jobs in December, the report noted.
In a reversal of recent trends, the "couriers and messengers" (delivery) sector lost jobs in January. Courier and messenger employment declined by 14,000 to open 2021 after the sector saw gains of 37,000 jobs in December and 82,000 in November. Overall, however, employment in courier and messenger jobs is up 137,000 compared with February 2020. Warehousing and storage saw a loss of 17,000 jobs in January.
Leisure and hospitality, after posting a large loss—536,000 jobs—in December, shed 61,000 jobs in January. That included a loss of 19,000 jobs at restaurants and bars, following a loss of a whopping 372,000 jobs for that sector in the last month of 2020.
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