Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 273,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 3.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Notable job gains occurred in health care and social assistance, food services and drinking places, government, construction, professional and
technical services, and financial activities.
This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics. The establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry.
Household Survey Data
Both the unemployment rate, at 3.5 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 5.8 million, changed little in February. The unemployment rate has been either 3.5 percent or 3.6 percent for the past 6 months.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Asians declined to 2.5 percent in February. The rates for adult men (3.3 percent), adult women (3.1 percent), teenagers (11.0 percent), Whites (3.1 percent), Blacks (5.8 percent), and Hispanics (4.4 percent) showed little or no change over the month.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 1.1 million, changed little in February and accounted for 19.2 percent of the unemployed.
The labor force participation rate remained at 63.4 percent in February. The employment-population ratio, at 61.1 percent, changed little over the month but was up by 0.4 percentage point over the year.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, at 4.3 million, changed little in February. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.
In February, 1.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little changed from the previous month. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks prior to the survey. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, numbered 405,000 in February, little different from the previous month.
Establishment Survey Data
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 273,000 in February, after an increase of the same magnitude in January. In 2019, job growth averaged 178,000 per month. In February, notable job gains occurred in health care and social assistance, food services and drinking places, government, construction, professional and technical services, and financial activities.
Employment in health care and social assistance increased by 57,000 in February. Health care added 32,000 jobs, with gains in offices of physicians (+10,000), home health care services (+10,000), and hospitals (+8,000). Employment in social assistance increased by 25,000, with a majority of the gain in individual and family services (+18,000). Over the past 12 months, employment increased by 368,000 in health care and
by 191,000 in social assistance.
Food services and drinking places added 53,000 jobs in February. Employment in the industry has increased by 252,000 over the past 7 months, following a lull in job growth earlier in 2019.
In February, government employment increased by 45,000, led by a gain in state government education (+16,000). Federal employment increased by 8,000, reflecting the hiring of 7,000 temporary workers for the 2020 Census.
Construction added 42,000 jobs in February, following a similar gain in January (+49,000). In 2019, job gains averaged 13,000 per month. In February, employment gains occurred in specialty trade contractors (+26,000) and residential building (+10,000).
In February, employment in professional and technical services increased by 32,000. Job growth occurred in architectural and engineering services (+10,000) and in scientific research and development services (+5,000). Employment continued to trend up in computer systems design and related services (+8,000). Over the past 12 months, professional and technical services has added 285,000 jobs.
Employment in financial activities increased by 26,000 in February, with gains in real estate (+8,000) and in credit intermediation and related activities (+6,000). Over the past 12 months, financial activities has added 160,000 jobs.
Employment in other major industries, including mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, and information, changed little over the month.
In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 9 cents to $28.52. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.0 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 8 cents to $23.96 in February.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in February. In manufacturing, the workweek increased by 0.2 hour to 40.7 hours, and overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.2 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour to 33.7 hours.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised up by 37,000 from +147,000 to +184,000, and the change for January was revised up by 48,000 from +225,000 to +273,000. With these revisions, employment gains in December and January combined were 85,000 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.) After revisions, job gains have averaged 243,000 per month over the last 3 months.