The U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs in February while the unemployment rate remained at 8.3 percent, according to an employment report issued Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The report indicates that employment rose in “professional and business services, health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and mining.”

The Bureau’s report adds that the number of unemployed persons was 12.8 million, “essentially unchanged in February.”

The report indicates that, in Florida, “employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 44,000, with 41,000 of those jobs added in food services and drinking places.” Food services has added 531,000 jobs since a low in February 2010.

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s December jobs report, the leisure and hospitality industry had the second largest job growth in 2011, adding 30,400 jobs – 23,500 of which were in the food services and drinking sector.

National Restaurant Association data indicates that restaurants employ more than 794,000 people in Florida, and “in 2011 Florida’s restaurants are projected to register $30.1 billion in sales.”

A bill proposed by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association that “would have cut the hourly pay of restaurant servers and other tipped employees by more than half” died this week in the Florida Senate.

That bill, which was hotly contested, was supported by Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Bloomberg News reports that “Employers in the U.S. boosted payrolls more than forecast in February, indicating companies are growing more optimistic about the expansion. The jobless rate held at 8.3 percent.”

According to Bloomberg, “job growth over the last six months was the strongest since 2006.”

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