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

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their monthly look at the US employment situation and the data for February shows minimal growth. 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.

Before we get to the February jobs report, let’s take a quick look at January’s US job numbers. Last month, the BLS reported that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 311,000 jobs in January while the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4.0% (approximately 6.5 million professionals). A deeper look at the US jobs data showed promising signs for a few industries hiring in 2019. Areas with the most growth included:

  • Leisure and hospitality – 89,000 jobs
  • Construction – 53,000 jobs
  • Health care – 42,000 jobs
  • Transportation and warehousing – 27,000 jobs
  • Retail – 21,000 jobs

The February jobs report is much different than January’s US employment situation report. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by only 20,000 jobs and unemployment decreased slightly to 3.8%. Here are some other highlights of the labor department jobs report:

  • The number of long-term unemployed was 1.3 million, accounting for 20.4% of all unemployed workers.
  • The labor force participation rate was 63.2% and has not changed much over the past year.
  • The number of people employed part time for economic reasons (AKA involuntary part-time workers) dropped by 837,000 to 4.3 million. This is largely due to the end of the government shutdown, which caused that number to spike in January.
  • Average hourly earnings for all employees on nonfarm payrolls rose by 11 cents to $27.66 after a 2-cent increase in January.

February also saw moderate growth for a few industries hiring in 2019. Professional and business services continued an upward trend by adding 42,000 jobs, health care added another 21,000 jobs, and wholesale trade employment increased by 11,000 jobs. Employment in the construction industry declined by 31,000 in February, manufacturing experienced very small growth (4,000 jobs), and key industries like leisure and hospitality, retail trade, and transportation and warehousing saw no change.

Overall, the labor department jobs report suggests the economy may be weakening. 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

by: Freddie Rohner, iHire
March 08, 2019