A 236,000-increase in nonfarm payrolls for February came in well above expectations for 160,000 nonfarm jobs to be added. This along with people leaving the labor force helped the jobless rate to decline 0.2 percentage points to 7.7% for Feburary. This is the lowest unemployment rate since December 2008. The number of unemployed persons edged lower in February to 12 million. In the past three months, employment had risen by an average of 195,000 per month.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes employment increased in professional and business services, construction, and health care. The Bureau elaborates, "In February, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was about unchanged at 4.8 million. These individuals accounted for 40.2% of the unemployed. The employment-population ratio held at 58.6% in February. The civilian labor force participation rate, at 63.5%, changed little."
In February, BLS says the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours. The manufacturing workweek rose by 0.2 hour to 40.9 hours and factory overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.4 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.2 hour to 33.8 hours.
BLS continues, "Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4 cents to $23.82. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.1 percent. In February, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 5 cents to $20.04."
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