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Construction and real estate employment fall in February job report

Construction employment fell by 61,000 as the real estate industry craves more housing.

The US unemployment rate remained steady at 6.2 percent in February, with the total non-agricultural workforce increasing only 379,000. The increase in jobs has been mostly recreational and hospitality as the COVID-19 vaccine became more available. However, the construction sector suffered at a time when the real estate industry is suffering from historically low inventory levels.

The total number of jobs created actually surpassed the 200,000 estimated by economists, but unemployment in the US is still much higher than it was in pre-pandemic times.

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

Construction employment fell by 61,000 in February, but those losses weren’t entirely unexpected, according to Odeta Kushi, senior economist at First American. The largest losses were recorded in non-resident specialist retailers and in civil engineering.

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

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

The February job report comes out one day after the US released its weekly jobless claims, which rose 32,000 to 748,000 workers who first made jobless claims in the week ended February 26.

“The economy has only regained 58 percent of the jobs lost at the beginning of the pandemic, but the recovery is now picking up momentum,” Kushi said. “Successful vaccine diffusion can help the hardest hit sectors recover, boosting the labor market and accelerating the growth of the service sector.”

Email to Patrick Kearns

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