One year after the onset of the coronavirus recession, the U.S. labor market is still a long way from its February 2020 employment levels, but saw important job gains last month. According to the latest Employment Situation Summary by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy in February added 379,000 nonfarm payroll jobs—the greatest month-over-month gain since October of last year.

Today’s release also shows that between mid-January and mid-February the overall unemployment rate fell from 6.3 to 6.2  percent, with 50,000 workers re-entering the U.S. labor force. Across sectors, last month’s job gains were concentrated in leisure and hospitality, which added 355,000 jobs. Yet data on employment changes over the entire year show that the downturn remains especially hard for this sector and for service-providing industries in general.

The economic pain brought on by the downturn continues to fall heaviest on some groups. The jobless rate stands at 9.9 percent for Black workers, at  8.5percent for Latinx workers, at 5.1 percent for Asian American workers, and at 5.6 percent for White workers. Disaggregating the data further shows that over the past 12 months, net job losses have been greatest for Black and Hispanic women and men—groups for whom employment declined by  9.7 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively.

For Hispanic men, overall job losses are less severe than for women workers or Black men. Yet their experience during this recession also highlights important challenges they face in the labor market. For instance, Hispanic men are overrepresented in jobs that cannot be done from home. Despite accounting for about 8 percent of the U.S. workforce, these workers represent about a quarter of the construction workers and about 1 in 5 workers in the mining sector. In part as a result of their industry and occupational distribution, Hispanic men are facing risks associated with in-person work and have been more likely to experience joblessness than their White, non-Hispanic peers—a trend that risks entrenching longstanding inequities between the two groups of workers.

Read the full article about employment losses by Kate Bahn and Carmen Sanchez Cumming at Washington Center for Equitable Growth.