The slow recovery from the massive credit crisis caused recession remains underway. Nonfarm payroll employment declined 36,000 in February, and the unemployment rate held at 9.7%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment fell in construction and information, while temporary help services added jobs. Severe winter weather in parts of the country may have affected, negatively, payroll employment and hours.
In February, the number of unemployed persons, at 14.9 million, was essentially unchanged. Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (10.0%), adult women (8.0%), whites (8.8%), African-Americans (15.8%), Hispanics (12.4%), Asians was 8.4%, and teenagers (25.0%) showed little to no change in February.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was 6.1 million in February and has remained stable since December. About 4 in 10 unemployed persons have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more.
In February, the civilian labor force participation rate (64.8%) and the employment-population ratio (58.5%) were little changed.
The number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased from 8.3 to 8.8 million in February, partially offsetting a large decrease in the prior month. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
Since the start of the recession in December 2007, payroll employment has fallen by 8.4 million.
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Construction employment fell by 64,000 in February, about in line with the average monthly job loss over the prior 6 months. Job losses were concentrated in nonresidential building (-10,000) and among nonresidential specialty trade contractors (-35,000). Since December 2007, employment in construction has fallen by 1.9 million.
Employment in manufacturing was essentially unchanged in February. Small job gains in a number of component industries were offset by job losses in motor vehicles and parts and in chemicals.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 0.1 hour to 33.8 hours in February. The manufacturing workweek for all employees dropped by 0.4 hour to 39.5 hours, and factory overtime decreased by 0.2 hour over the month. In February, the average workweek for production or nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls fell by 0.2 hour to 33.1 hours; the workweek fell by 1.0 hour in construction, likely reflecting the unusually severe winter storms.
Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 1.9%. In February, average hourly earnings of private production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 3 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $18.93.