The US job market beat expectations again in November, adding 263,000 payrolls led by the service sector.
Leisure and hospitality was the top category for job gains, according to a report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, adding 88,000 jobs. Roughly 62,000 of those jobs were in food and drink services, the report said.
Health care and social assistance was the second-biggest category last month, adding more than 68,000 jobs. When those groups are combined in a broader category with education, as some economists do, the gains rise to 82,000.
Betsey Stevenson, a University of Michigan professor and former chief economist of the US Labor Department, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that the strength of those sectors show how the economy is still reacting to the impact of the Covid pandemic.
“If you look at where the job growth was in this report, 170,000 of those jobs were in two sectors, sectors where we need people: education and health services, which has barely recovered back to its pre-pandemic level, and leisure and hospitality , which has not recovered back to anywhere near its pre-pandemic level of employment,” Stevenson said.
Government employment also had a strong month, adding 42,000 jobs.
Despite the headline beat and strength in the service sector, there were still weak spots in the economy. The retail trade and transportation and warehousing categories both lost jobs last month.
Those declines come as retail and e-commerce companies have struggled with inventory management and the shift in consumer spending after an online shopping boom during the pandemic.
“So we’ve got some sectors that are still in recovery, and other sectors I think that got ahead of their skis,” Stevenson said.