HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was stable in February, as the labor force and payrolls both grew as they creep back toward pre-pandemic levels, according to state figures released Friday.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 7.3%, the same as January, the state Department of Labor and Industry said.

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That was more than a whole point above the national rate of 6.2% in February.

In a survey of households, the labor force grew by an estimated 35,000 in February, to back above 6.3 million. The number of employed accounted for most of that, rising by 30,000. The number of unemployed also grew slightly. The state hit a record high labor force of almost 6.6 million just before the pandemic.

In a separate survey of employers, payrolls in Pennsylvania expanded in February by almost 17,000, to above 5.65 million.

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Pennsylvania has regained about 60% of the 1.1 million jobs lost in the pandemic. It hit a record high for payrolls of 6.1 million last February, according to state figures.

Leisure and hospitality grew of the most of any sector, by almost 13,000 jobs to 439,000. The hard-hit sector remains down about 25% from pre-pandemic levels after losing an estimated 60% of its jobs last spring.

The category includes restaurants and bars, and remains under stricter pandemic limitations than other businesses.

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