General Business

US Economy Added 678K Jobs in February

The nation’s total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 678,000 in February, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.8%, according to this morning’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ jobs report. Job growth was widespread, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, healthcare and construction.

This information issued today presents statistics from two monthly surveys: the household survey, which measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics; and the establishment survey, which measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry.

According to the Household Survey Data, the unemployment rate edged down to 3.8%, and the number of unemployed persons edged down to 6.3 million. In February 2020, prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the unemployment rate was 3.5%, and the number of unemployed persons was 5.7 million.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.5%) and Hispanics (4.4%) declined in February. The jobless rates for adult women (3.6%), teenagers (10.3%), Whites (3.3%), Blacks (6.6%), and Asians (3.1%) showed little or no change over the month.

The labor force participation rate, at 62.3% in February, changed little over the month. The employment-population ratio edged up to 59.9%. Both measures remain below their February 2020 levels (63.4% and 61.2%, respectively).

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons increased by 418,000 to 4.1 million in February but remains below its February 2020 level of 4.4 million.

The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job declined by 349,000 to 5.4 million in February. This measure is above its February 2020 level of 5.0 million.

Establishment Survey Data revealed that total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 678,000 in February, but is down by 2.1 million, or 1.4%, from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020. Job growth was widespread over the month, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, health care, and construction.

Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to increase, with a gain of 179,000 in February. Job growth occurred in food services and drinking places (+124,000) and in accommodation (+28,000). Since February 2020, employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 1.5 million, or 9.0%.

Professional and business services added 95,000 jobs in February. Job gains occurred in temporary help services (+36,000), management of companies and enterprises (+12,000), management and technical consulting services (+10,000), and scientific research and development services (+8,000).

Employment in professional and business services is 596,000 higher than in February 2020, largely in temporary help services (+240,000), computer systems design and related services (+154,000), and management and technical consulting services (+152,000).

Employment in healthcare rose by 64,000 in February. Job gains occurred in home healthcare services (+20,000), offices of physicians (+15,000), and offices of other health practitioners (+12,000). Employment in healthcare is down by 306,000, or 1.9%, from its level in February 2020.

Construction added 60,000 jobs in February, following little change in the prior month. About three-fourths of the over-the-month job gain occurred in specialty trade contractors, with increases in both the residential (+24,000) and nonresidential (+20,000) components. Construction employment is slightly below (-11,000) its February 2020 level.

Employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 48,000 in February and is 584,000 higher than in February 2020. Over the month, job gains continued in warehousing and storage (+11,000), couriers and messengers (+9,000), support activities for transportation (+9,000), and air transportation (+7,000). All four of these component industries have surpassed their February 2020 employment levels, with particularly strong job growth in warehousing and storage (+420,000) and couriers and messengers (+240,000).

Employment in retail trade rose by 37,000 in February, with gains in building material and garden supply stores (+12,000), furniture and home furnishings stores (+6,000), and gasoline stations (+5,000). Retail trade employment is 104,000 above its level in February 2020.

Manufacturing added 36,000 jobs in February. Employment in durable goods industries rose by 20,000, with job gains in fabricated metal products (+11,000), machinery (+8,000), electrical equipment and appliances (+4,000), nonmetallic mineral products (+3,000), furniture and related products (+3,000), and primary metals (+3,000). These gains were partially offset by a job loss in motor vehicles and parts (-18,000).

In February, employment in financial activities rose by 35,000. Job gains were split between finance and insurance (+16,000) and real estate (+16,000). Employment in financial activities is 31,000 above its level in February 2020.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised up by 78,000, from +510,000 to +588,000, and the change for January was revised up by 14,000, from +467,000 to +481,000. With these revisions, employment in December and January combined is 92,000 higher than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.)

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