Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 227,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised from +203,000 to +223,000, and the change for January was revised from +243,000 to +284,000. Which brings the total new jobs for this report to 286,000 (227+20+39). This is very good news. There are other serious economic concerns (failure, after years, to take any meaningful action to prevent systemic too big to fail risk, policies harming savers to benefit too big to fail institutions, extremely large and dangerous budget deficits…) and the employment situation still has a long way to go to recover from the credit crisis crash but the recent job news is strongly positive.
The number of unemployed persons, at 12.8 million, was essentially unchanged in February. The unemployment rate held at 8.3%, 80 basis points below the August 2011 rate of 9.1%.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) remains at very damaging levels; it was little changed at 5.4 million in February. These individuals accounted for 42.6% of the unemployed.
Both the labor force and employment rose in February. The civilian labor force participation rate, at 63.9 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 58.6 percent, edged up over the month.
Private-sector employment grew by 233,000, with job gains in professional and business services, health care and
social assistance, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and mining. Government jobs declined by 6,000. In 2011,
government lost an average of 22,000 jobs per month.
Professional and business services added 82,000 jobs in February. Just over half of the increase occurred in temporary help services (+45,000). Job gains also occurred in computer systems design (+10,000) and in management and technical consulting services (+7,000). Employment in professional and business services has grown by 1.4 million since a recent low point in September 2009.
Health care and social assistance employment rose by 61,000 over the month. Within health care, ambulatory care services added 28,000 jobs, and hospital employment increased by 15,000. Over the past 12 months, health care employment has risen by 360,000.
In February, employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 44,000, with nearly all of the increase in food services and drinking places (+41,000). Since a recent low in February 2010, food services has added 531,000 jobs.
Manufacturing employment rose by 31,000 in February. All of the increase occurred in durable goods manufacturing, with job gains in fabricated metal products (+11,000), transportation equipment (+8,000), machinery (+5,000), and furniture and related products (+3,000). Durable goods manufacturing has added 444,000 jobs since a recent trough in January 2010. Of all the good news the continued manufacturing gains may well be the best news.
In February, mining added 7,000 jobs, with most of the gain in support activities for mining (+5,000). Since a recent low in October 2009, mining employment has increased by 180,000.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.5 hours in February. The manufacturing workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 41.0 hours, and factory overtime was unchanged at 3.4 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 33.8 hours.
In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents, or 0.1%, to $23.31. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 1.9% (below inflation which has been 3% over the last 12 months). In February, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 3 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $19.64.