The U.S. unemployment rate stayed steady at 6.2 percent in February, with total nonfarm payrolls rising only 379,000. Job gains came mostly in leisure and hospitality as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more available, but the construction sector suffered at a time when the real estate industry is suffering through historically low inventory.

The total number of jobs created actually beat the 200,000 estimated by economists, but unemployment in the U.S. remains much higher than in pre-pandemic times.

“Payrolls are showing green shoots of recovery as the pandemic’s winter wave recedes, but still a long way to go,” Daniel Zhao, Glassdoor’s senior economist, said in a statement.

Construction employment fell by 61,000 in February, but those losses were not entirely unexpected, according to Odeta Kushi, the senior economist at First American. The heaviest losses came in nonresidential specialty trade contractors and civil engineering construction.

“Winter Storm Uri weighed on construction employment this month,” Kushi added on Twitter.

The real estate industry lost 4,500 jobs in February, but all of the losses came in the rental and leasing segment of the industry.

The release of the February jobs report comes a day after the U.S. released its weekly unemployment claims, which rose by 32,000 to 748,000 total workers filing first-time unemployment claims for the week ending February 26.

“The economy has only regained 58 percent of the jobs lost at the start of the pandemic, but the recovery has momentum now,” Kushi said. “Successful vaccine dissemination may help the hardest-hit sectors recover, providing a boost to the labor market, with faster growth skewed to the services sector.”

Email Patrick Kearns

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