US Feb Change in Non-Farm Payrolls 20K v 180K eyed

Total nonfarm payroll employment changed little in February (+20,000), and the
unemployment rate declined to 3.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported today. Employment in professional and business services, health care, and
wholesale trade continued to trend up, while construction employment decreased.   

Household Survey Data

The unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 3.8 percent in February,
and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 300,000 to 6.2 million. Among the
unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs
(including people on temporary layoff) declined by 225,000. This decline reflects,
in part, the return of federal workers who were furloughed in January due to the
partial government shutdown. (See tables A-1 and A-11.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.5 percent),
Whites (3.3 percent), and Hispanics (4.3 percent) decreased in February. The jobless
rates for adult women (3.4 percent), teenagers (13.4 percent), Blacks (7.0 percent),
and Asians (3.1 percent) showed little or no change over the month. (See tables A-1,
A-2, and A-3.)

In February, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more)
was essentially unchanged at 1.3 million and accounted for 20.4 percent of the
unemployed. (See table A-12.) 

The labor force participation rate held at 63.2 percent in February and has changed
little over the year. The employment-population ratio, at 60.7 percent, was unchanged
over the month but was up by 0.3 percentage point over the year. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to
as involuntary part-time workers) decreased by 837,000 to 4.3 million in February.
This decline follows a sharp increase in January that may have resulted from the
partial federal government shutdown. (Persons employed part time for economic reasons
would have preferred full-time employment but were working part time because their
hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.) (See table A-8.)

In February, 1.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, a
decrease of 178,000 from a year earlier. (Data are not seasonally adjusted.) These
individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had
looked for a job sometime in the last 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed
because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See
table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 428,000 discouraged workers in February,
little changed from a year earlier. (Data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged
workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are
available for them. The remaining 1.0 million persons marginally attached to the
labor force in February had not searched for work for reasons such as school
attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)	

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment was little changed in February (+20,000), after
increasing by 311,000 in January. In 2018, job growth averaged 223,000 per month.
In February, employment continued to trend up in professional and business services,
health care, and wholesale trade, while construction employment declined. (See table

In February, employment in professional and business services continued to trend
up (+42,000), in line with its average monthly gain over the prior 12 months. 

Health care added 21,000 jobs in February and 361,000 jobs over the year. Employment
in ambulatory health care services edged up over the month (+16,000). 

In February, wholesale trade employment continued its upward trend (+11,000). The
industry has added 95,000 jobs over the year, largely among durable goods wholesalers. 

Employment in construction declined by 31,000 in February, partially offsetting an
increase of 53,000 in January. In February, employment declined in heavy and civil
engineering construction (-13,000). Over the year, construction has added 223,000 jobs.

Manufacturing employment changed little in February (+4,000), after increasing by an
average of 22,000 per month over the prior 12 months.

In February, employment in leisure and hospitality was unchanged, after posting job
gains of 89,000 and 65,000 in January and December, respectively. Over the year,
leisure and hospitality has added 410,000 jobs.

Employment in other major industries, including mining, retail trade, transportation
and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, showed little
or no change over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1
hour to 34.4 hours in February. In manufacturing, the average workweek declined 0.1
hour to 40.7 hours, while overtime was unchanged at 3.5 hours. The average workweek
for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls fell by 0.2
hour to 33.6 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls
rose by 11 cents to $27.66, following a 2-cent gain in January. Over the year, average
hourly earnings have increased by 3.4 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector
production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 8 cents to $23.18 in February.
(See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised up from +222,000
to +227,000, and the change for January was revised up from +304,000 to +311,000. With
these revisions, employment gains in December and January combined were 12,000 more 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 186,000
per month over the last 3 months. 


Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Ed Moya

Ed Moya

Contributing Author at OANDA
With more than 20 years’ trading experience, Ed Moya was a Senior Market Analyst with OANDA for the Americas from November 2018 to November 2023. His particular expertise lies across a wide range of asset classes including FX, commodities, fixed income, stocks and cryptocurrencies. Over the course of his career, Ed has worked with some of the leading forex brokerages, research teams and news departments on Wall Street including Global Forex Trading, FX Solutions and Trading Advantage. Prior to OANDA he worked with, where he provided market analysis on economic data and corporate news. Based in New York, Ed is a regular guest on several major financial television networks including CNBC, Bloomberg TV, Yahoo! Finance Live, Fox Business, cheddar news, and CoinDesk TV. His views are trusted by the world’s most respected global newswires including Reuters, Bloomberg and the Associated Press, and he is regularly quoted in leading publications such as MSN, MarketWatch, Forbes, Seeking Alpha, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Ed holds a BA in Economics from Rutgers University.