Chart reflecting growing employment

The February Jobs Report: What is the Current US Employment Situation?

Posted: March 06, 2020

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their monthly overview of the US employment situation and the data for February looks encouraging. The labor department jobs report examines a range of US jobs data to gauge the overall health of the US economy, specifically the number of jobs added, the unemployment rate, and what industries are hiring now.


Last Month’s Numbers

Before we get to the February jobs report, let’s revisit January’s US job numbers. Last month, the BLS reported that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 225,000 jobs. The unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.6% (approximately 5.9 million professionals). A deeper look at the US jobs data and industries hiring in 2020 showed promising growth in a few areas while others registered no change at all.

  • Construction – 44,000 jobs added
  • Health care – 36,000 jobs added
  • Transportation and warehousing – 28,000 jobs added
  • Leisure and hospitality – 36,000 jobs added
  • Professional and business services – 21,000 jobs added
  • Manufacturing, mining, wholesale trade, retail trade, information, financial activities, and government – no change


This Month’s Numbers

The February jobs report showed total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 273,000, unemployment was little changed at 3.5%, and the number of unemployed persons was also little changed at 5.8 million.

Here are some other highlights of the labor department jobs report:

  • The number of long-term unemployed was relatively unchanged (1.1 million) and accounts for 19.2% of the unemployed.
  • The labor force participation rate remained at 63.4%.
  • The number of people employed part time for economic reasons (AKA involuntary part-time workers) held relatively steady at 4.3 million.
  • Average hourly earnings for all employees on nonfarm payrolls rose by $0.09 to $28.52 after increasing by $0.07 in January. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.0%.

February saw promising growth for a few industries hiring in 2020. Bolstered by gains in physician offices, home health care services, and hospitals, health care and social assistance led the way with 53,000 jobs added in February. We also saw employment growth in government due to an increase in state government education and hiring of temporary workers by the federal government for the 2020 Census. Here are all of the industries that saw growth in February:

  • Health care and social assistance – 57,000 jobs added
  • Food services and drinking places – 53,000 jobs added
  • Government employment – 45,000 jobs added
  • Construction – 42,000 jobs added
  • Professional and technical services – 32,000 jobs added
  • Financial activities – 26,000 jobs added

Key industries like manufacturing, mining, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, and information saw little change.

Overall, the labor department jobs report suggests the economy is in good shape. Whether you’re looking for top talent or searching for your dream job, there’s still plenty of opportunity out there, and you can find it on iHire.


For more information on how the BLS tracks and updates US job numbers and calculates the unemployment rate, check out this informative post on FiveThirtyEight.

Sarah Ballow, iHire
Posted by: Sarah Ballow, iHire
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