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Health care adds jobs as unemployment creeps up in February


Sector gains 66,700 workers last month.

unemployment rate: © max dallocco - stock.adobe.com

© max dallocco - stock.adobe.com

Health care was among the sectors reporting gains for February as national unemployment crept up for the month, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 275,000 jobs and the total jobless rate increased 0.2% to 3.9% for February. Government, food services and drinking places, social assistance, and transportation and warehousing also added workers for the month, according to the BLS figures.

In February, the number of unemployed people rose by 334,000 to 6.5 million; in February 2023, there were 6 million people unemployed with the national jobless rate at 3.6%.

Health care added 66,700 jobs last month, beating the average monthly gain of 58,000 for the last year.

Ambulatory health care services added 28,000 workers while hospital staff grew by 27,700; nursing and residential care facilities grew by 11,000 staff.

Offices of physicians hire 8,700 workers; offices of other health practitioners hired 5,600 employees, and dental offices grew by 1,900 workers. Outpatient care centers and other residential care facilities were the was the only areas of the health care sector to lose workers, posting cuts of 3,500 and 100 staff, respectively.

Other sectors

Among other sectors, government added 52,000 jobs in February, slightly less than the average monthly gain of 53,000 new workers. Food services and drinking places added 42,000 new staff, changing little over the last three months.

Social assistance added 24,000 jobs last month, edging over the average monthly gain of 23,000 for the last 12 months. In that sector, individual and family services grew by 19,000 workers.

Transportation and warehousing added 20,000 new jobs in February, although that sector is down by 144,000 workers since peaking in July 2022. Construction added 23,000 new positions, in line with the last 12 months’ average gain of 18,000 workers. Retail trade employment grew by 19,000 for the month.

Political leaders respond

In a statement, President Joe Biden said the report showed “the great American comeback continues.”

“Three years ago, I inherited an economy on the brink,” the president’s statement said. “Now, our economy is the envy of the world. We added 275,000 jobs last month – nearly 15 million since I took office. Unemployment has been under 4% for the longest stretch in more than 50 years. Wages keep going up. Inflation keeps coming down. And I’m taking action to continue lowering costs by taking on Big Pharma, getting rid of hidden junk fees, and making housing more affordable.”

The president on March 11 was scheduled to travel to New Hampshire. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Whatley called it a “Bankrupting American Tour Stop.”

“Given Joe Biden’s refusal to reverse course on Bidenomics or participate in the First in the Nation primary, it’s clear that he doesn’t care about inflation or the people of New Hampshire,” Whatley’s statement said. “If Biden wants to help American families, he should stop pushing tax-and-spend budget plans and support House Republicans’ bills to drive down costs.”

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