The unemployment rate ticked down a notch in February, while net job growth surpassed economists’ expectations in President Trump’s first full month in office.
According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private sector netted 227,000 nonfarm job gains in February. Local, state and federal governments gained 8,000 jobs, resulting in 235,000 total net job gains. Economists had expected around 200,000 total net job gains, according to those surveyed by Bloomberg.
Construction, private educational services, manufacturing, health care and mining experienced significant job gains, with construction gaining the most (58,000). The retail trade lost 26,000 jobs, after gaining 40,000 last month.
The average hourly wage for all private-sector employees showed a solid monthly gain, rising by 6 cents to $26.09. The average hourly wage increased by 4 cents to $21.86 for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees.
The BLS revised job gains for December 2016 and January 2017, showing that the economy netted 9,000 more jobs than the BLS had previously estimated for the two months. Net job gains have averaged 209,000 per month over the past three months.
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The unemployment rate edged down to 4.7 percent from 4.8 in January. The unemployment rate has ranged from 4.6 to 5.0 percent over the past year. Economists consider an unemployment rate of around 5.0 percent to be normal and a sign of a healthy economy.
The number of workers that the BLS counted as unemployed in February was 7.5 million, down a little from 7.6 million in the month before. That’s mainly why the unemployment rate edged down a notch.
The count of unemployed workers does not include those who are involuntarily working only part time and with fewer benefits, if any, such as no health insurance, because they can’t find full-time jobs or employers cut their work hours. The number of involuntarily part-timers in February was 5.7 million, down slightly from 5.8 million in January.
The average workweek for all part-timers and full-timers in the private sector in February was 34.4 hours, unchanged from December and January.
The unemployment rate also does not include “marginally-attached” unemployed workers. The BLS does not count them in the official rate because they stopped looking for work in the four weeks preceding the count, for reasons such as school attendance, family matters or their collective perception that there simply are no jobs — at least not for them.
The number of marginally-attached workers in February was 1.7 million, down a bit from 1.8 million last month. Among the marginally-attached, 522,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs. That was down by 10,000 from the 532,000 that the BLS initially reported for January. (The BLS does not seasonally adjust any of the figures in this paragraph.)
The number of long-term unemployed workers, those who have been without jobs for 27 weeks or longer, was 1.8 million in February, down from 1.9 million in January. These workers accounted for 23.8 percent of the unemployed. Standard state unemployment benefits last only up to 26 weeks without extensions.
If you are a recent victim of job loss or a reduction in work hours resulting from the high unemployment rate, then you might be eligible to collect full or partial unemployment benefits from the state unemployment office. You might also be eligible to continue your employer-provided group health insurance coverage through COBRA.
For more details about the February 2017 unemployment rate and job numbers, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the March 2017 unemployment rate and job numbers on Friday, April 7. To receive notification like the above automatically, subscribe to Employee Rights Blog for free.
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Except where otherwise noted, figures in this unemployment rate report were rounded and/or seasonally adjusted by the BLS, and are subject to revision by same (based on additional data that was not initially available). The unemployment rate chart pictured above was provided by the BLS.