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You are Here: Home > Blog > Unemployment Rate – February 2018

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Unemployment Rate – February 2018

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

The unemployment rate remained at a 17-year low in February, while job gains were surprisingly better than analysts had expected.

According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private sector gained 287,000 nonfarm jobs in February. Local, state and federal governments gained 26,000 jobs, resulting in 313,000 total net job gains for the month. Analysts had expected only around 205,000 total net job gains.

After revisions, December and January job gains were 54,000 more than the BLS originally estimated. Job gains have averaged 242,000 per month over the last 3 months.

Job growth continued to trend upward in construction (61,000), as is typical when spring approaches in the Northern Hemisphere. Other industries that added significant numbers of jobs include the retail trade (50,000), professional and business services (50,000), manufacturing (31,000), financial activities (28,000), and health care (9,000). (Job gains shown in parenthesis.)

The unemployment rate in February held at 4.1 percent for the fifth month in a row, the lowest level since December 2000 when it was 3.9 percent.

The average hourly wage for all private-sector employees showed a monthly gain in February, rising 4 cents to $26.75 after a 7-cent gain in January. Over the year, average hourly wages have risen by 68 cents (2.6 percent). The average hourly wage increased by 6 cents to $22.40 in February, for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees.

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Unemployment Rate 2016-2018
Unemployment Rate Chart 2016 to 2018

The unemployment rate edged down to 4.1 percent in October 2017 and remained there through February 2018. The total number of workers that the BLS counted as unemployed in February was 6.7 million, the same as in January.

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 5.2 million, up from 5.0 million in January.

The average workweek in February for all part-timers and full-timers in the private sector was 34.5 hours, up a few minutes from 34.3 hours in 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 1.6 million, down a little from 1.7 in January. Among the marginally-attached, 373,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs for them. That was down from 451,000 in 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 1.4 million in February, the same as in January. These workers accounted for 20.7 percent of the unemployed. Standard state unemployment benefits last only up to 26 weeks without extensions.

If you are a recent victim of a job loss or a reduction in work hours, 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 2018 unemployment rate and job numbers, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the March 2018 unemployment rate and job numbers on Friday, April 6. 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.

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