The US added 379,000 jobs in February, signaling the recovery is finally gaining steam

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: People continue to eat in dining pods despite indoor dining opening back up on Valentine's Day on February 14, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

(CNN) — The US economy added 379,000 jobs last month, far more than economists had expected, signaling the labor market recovery is finally gaining steam.

The leisure and hospitality industry added the most jobs in February with 355,000 new positions as some restrictions to stop the spread of Covid-19 were rolled back.

The unemployment rate — which only counts people who are actively seeking jobs and not those who have dropped out of the workforce entirely — inched down to 6.2% from 6.3% in January. It was forecast to stay flat.

Economists agree that the official jobless rate is likely under-reporting how many people are actually unemployed as a result of the pandemic.

For example, 4.2 million people who have dropped out of the labor force were prevented from looking for a new job due to the pandemic in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

So Friday’s good news is only part of the recovery story.

America is still down 9.5 million jobs from February last year. While that number is finally going down, millions of workers have to rely on government help to make ends meet.

On Thursday, the Labor Department reported more than 18 million people received benefits under the government’s various programs in the week ended February 13.

And the labor force participation rate was flat at 61.4% in February. It hasn’t been this low since the 1970s.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.