Despite successive cold spells and snow storms in the east, the national economy added 175,000 jobs in February, reversing a two-month trend that saw job creation fall. The unemployment rate, however, ticked up a decimal point, to 6.7 percent. Job creation numbers for December and January were also revised upward, adding 25,000 jobs to the two-month total of 213,000.
The number of unemployed Americans is still stuck above 10 million–at 10.5 million. That figure does not include discouraged workers who have quit looking for work, and are no longer included in unemployment tallies. Nor does it include part-time workers who can’t find full-time work or whose hours have been cut back against their will. In January, 7.2 million people were working part-time for lack of full-time work. When those two groups are included, the unemployment and under-employment rate rises to 12.6 percent. That’s still a slight improvement over the previous month (12.7 percent in December), and a significant improvement over the year-ago rate of 14.9 percent.
In Florida, the current rate under that alternative measure, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is 14.3 percent, more than double the official unemployment rate.
Both the civilian labor force participation rate (63 percent) and the employment-population ratio (58.8 percent) were unchanged in February. Those two indicators point to the underlying strength of the economy: the stronger the economy, the more people will be inclined to join the labor force. But the long-term trend is expected to see a smaller labor-force participation rate as baby boomers retire in increasingly larger numbers. The labor force participation rate was down 0.5 percentage point from a year ago, while the employment-population ratio was little changed over the year.
Employment in professional and business services increased by 79,000 in February. Accounting and bookkeeping services added 16,000 jobs. Wholesale trade added 15,000 jobs, with nearly all of the increase occurring in durable goods (12,000). Employment in food services and bars continued to trend up in February (21,000), in construction (15,000) and health care (10,000).
Retail lost 4,000 jobs. Information industries lost 16,000 jobs, most of those in motion picture and sound recording. Employment in other major industries, including mining and logging, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, and government, changed little over the month.
The average workweek for all employees on private payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 34.2 hours in February. The manufacturing workweek was unchanged at 40.7 hours. In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private
payrolls rose by 9 cents to $24.31. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 52 cents, or 2.2 percent.
The official unemployment rate among major work groups is as follows: adult men, 6.4 percent; adult women, 5.9 percent; teenagers, 21.4 percent; whites, 5.8 percent; blacks, 12 percent; Hispanics, 8.1 percent; Asians, 6 percent.