Unemployment Ticks Down Again
JOB GROWTH: February job growth exceeded even the most optimistic expectations, reaching 273,000 new jobs. This level of activity was actually on par with upwardly revised numbers for January, which were initially reported as 225,000. Revisions to both the January and December figures raised the job creation totals for the combined two-month period by 85,000, bringing average job gains over the most recent three-month period to 243,000.
TOP INDUSTRIES: Job creation was particularly brisk in healthcare and hospitality in February, with solid gains also reported in government, construction and professional services. Manufacturing improved but transportation/warehousing took a hit in comparison to the prior month.
UNEMPLOYMENT: For the past six months, the unemployment rate has been dancing back and forth from 3.5% to 3.6%. In February, it continued that familiar rhythm when it returned to the lower rate of 3.5%.
WAGES: Wage growth continued to trend upward in February, with average hourly earnings over the past 12 months at 3.0%.
WORK WEEK: The work week got a bit longer in February, with average hours clocked at 34.4.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? When viewed in isolation, February was a great month for job growth. For a long time, detractors have warned about an approaching downturn that simply has not materialized. They’ve said tradition dictates that a decade-long expansion cannot continue, but it has. During uncertain times though, many employers will take a wait-and-see approach. The most optimistic, however, will take advantage of this pocket of opportunity, because no matter what happens, the best talent will always be in short supply.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Steinberg Employment Research, FOX News, Staffing Industry Analysts, NBC News, PBS News Hour, CNN Business, Bloomberg, The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report
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