Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
Nonfarm payrolls rose 227,000 in February, following upwardly revised gains of 284,000 in January and 223,000 in December. Revisions to the past two months added 61,000 in total (roughly 20,000 of that was upward revisions to government payrolls). Monthly payroll growth has averaged a gain of 245,000 over the past 3 months, compared to an average monthly increase of 153,000 in 2011. Job gains were seen across most broad industries in February, with the only exceptions being construction (down 13,000) and retail trade (down 7,400). Industry gains were led by professional and business services, which added 82,000 in February, compared to its average monthly gain of 50,000 in 2011. Roughly half of February’s overall gain in professional and business services can be traced to an increase in temporary help services payrolls. The other big gainer in February was healthcare employment, which rose by 61,000 and has now added 360,000 over the past 12 months.
In contrast to the slip in construction payrolls, manufacturing employment rose by 31,000 during the month, following a relatively strong (52,000) gain in January, and outpacing is average monthly gain over the past year of 19,000. Interestingly, nearly all of the gains in manufacturing payrolls over the past three months can be tied to gains in durables manufacturing (only a modest amount of that growth was due to gains in motor vehicle and parts assemblies).
Elsewhere on the establishment side of the report, the average workweek for all employees was unchanged at 34.5 hours in February, but the manufacturing workweek ticked up 0.1 hour to 41.0 hours. Also, average hourly earnings for all employees edged up 3 cents to $23.31. However, the year-over-year growth rate in hourly earnings stands at 1.9 percent, which is running slightly below the pace of measured inflation. On the household side, the unemployment rate was flat at 8.3 percent, as a jump in the number of employed persons (+428,000) was offset by a similar gain in the labor force. Still, the employment-to-population ratio ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 58.6 percent (its first increase in three months). Despite recent improvements, the number of long-term unemployed (unemployed for 27+ weeks) was unchanged at 5.4 million in February (or about 43 percent over the pool of unemployed persons).