U.S. unemployment rate held steady at 9.7% in February

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Non-farm payroll employment was little changed (-36,000) in February, and the unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on March 5. Employment fell in construction and information, while temporary help services added jobs. Severe winter weather in parts of the country may have affected payroll employment and hours; however, it is not possible to quantify precisely the net impact of the winter storms on these measures.

Household Survey Data
In February, the number of unemployed persons, at 14.9 million, was essentially unchanged, and the unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent. Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (10.0 percent), adult women (8.0 percent), whites (8.8 percent), blacks (15.8 percent), Hispanics (12.4 percent) and teenagers (25.0 percent) showed little to no change in February. The jobless rate for Asians was 8.4 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was 6.1 million in February and has been about that level since December. About 4 in 10 unemployed persons have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more. In February, the civilian labor force participation rate (64.8 percent) and the employment-population ratio (58.5 percent) were little changed. The number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased from 8.3 to 8.8 million in February, partially offsetting a large decrease in the prior month. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

About 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in February, an increase of 476,000 from a year earlier. (The data is 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 prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 1.2 million discouraged workers in February, up by 473,000 from a year earlier. (The data is not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.3 million persons marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Establishment Survey Data
Total non-farm payroll employment was little changed in February (-36,000). Job losses continued in construction and information, while employment continued to increase in temporary help services. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, payroll employment has fallen by 8.4 million.

Construction employment fell by 64,000 in February, about in line with the average monthly job loss over the prior 6 months. Job losses were concentrated in non-residential building (-10,000) and among nonresidential specialty trade contractors (-35,000). Since December 2007, employment in construction has fallen by 1.9 million.

Employment in the information industry dropped by 18,000 in February. Since December 2007, job losses in information have totaled 297,000. In February, employment in transportation and warehousing continued to trend down.

Employment in manufacturing was essentially unchanged in February. Small job gains in a number of component industries were offset by job losses in motor vehicles and parts and in chemicals.

Retail trade employment was unchanged in February, after a sizeable increase in January. Over the month, job gains in building material and garden supply stores (7,000) and in department stores (6,000) were offset by declines in food and beverage stores (-9,000).

In February, temporary help services added 48,000 jobs. Since reaching a low point in September 2009, temporary help services employment has risen by 284,000. Health care employment continued to trend upward in February.

In February, employment in the federal government edged up. The hiring of 15,000 temporary workers for Census 2010 was partially offset by a decline in U.S. Postal Service employment.

The average workweek for all employees on private non-farm payrolls declined by 0.1 hour to 33.8 hours in February. The manufacturing workweek for all employees dropped by 0.4 hour to 39.5 hours, and factory overtime decreased by 0.2 hour over the month. In February, the average workweek for production or nonsupervisory employees on private non-farm payrolls fell by 0.2 hour to 33.1 hours; the workweek fell by 1.0 hour in construction, likely reflecting the unusually severe winter storms.

In February, average hourly earnings of all employees on private non-farm payrolls increased by 3 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $22.46. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 1.9 percent. In February, average hourly earnings of private production and non-supervisory employees rose by 3 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $18.93.

The change in total non-farm payroll employment for December was revised from -150,000 to -109,000, and the change for January was revised from -20,000 to -26,000.

Read the full report and view all of the data tables by clicking on the link below:

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm


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