Grocers, General-Merchandise Stores Added Jobs in February

Official U.S. unemployment rate stands at 6.2%, vs. 3.5% a year ago
Grocery worker stocks lemons
Photograph: Shutterstock

Grocers and other retail food and beverage stores added 10,000 jobs in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in its monthly employment summary. That's down from the 15,000 jobs the sector added in January but ahead of December's gain of 8,000 jobs.  

General-merchandise stores led job gains for the retail industry in February. The general-merchandise sector added 14,000 jobs, recovering some of the ground lost from a slide of 38,000 jobs in January. 

The U.S. economy overall added 379,000 jobs in February, with the unemployment rate little changed at 6.2%, the BLS reported. The bureau also significantly revised upward its January jobs data: Last month, the bureau reported that the U.S. economy had added 49,000 jobs in January; that number has been revised upward to 166,000.

In a bright spot for the hospitality industry, restaurants, bars and other foodservice establishments added 286,000 jobs in February, following a steep slide of more than 500,000 jobs in December and the lost of an additional 61,000 jobs in January. Overall, employment in the leisure and hospitality industry as a whole is down 20.4% from prepandemic levels. Transportation and warehousing jobs, the BLS reported, were little changed in February. 

Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees on nonfarm, private-sector payrolls were up 4 cents in February to $25.19. For all nonfarm private-sector workers, earnings ticked up 7 cents to $30.01.

Overall, the number of unemployed persons in the U.S. stands at 10 million officially, vs. the 5.7 million unemployed in February 2020. Last month's 6.2% unemployment rate compares with a prepandemic rate of 3.5% a year ago. The BLS notes that in February, 4.2 million persons were prevented from looking for work because of the pandemic, down from 4.7 million in January.


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