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U.S. unemployment in February down to 8.9%

According to the Employment Situation Summary released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last Friday, nonfarm payroll employment increased by 192,000 in February 2011 and the unemployment rate dropped slightly, to 8.9%, from 9.0% in January. There were job gains in business services, construction, health care, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing.

The number of unemployed people (13.7 million) and the unemployment rate changed little in February. The unemployment rate was down by only 0.9% since November of 2010.

According to the report:

“Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (8.7 percent), adult women (8.0 percent), teenagers (23.9 percent), whites (8.0 percent), blacks (15.3 percent), and Hispanics (11.6 percent) showed little or no change in February. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.8 percent, not seasonally adjusted.”

The long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more) numbered 6.0 million and accounted for 43.9% of the unemployed. People who lost jobs or completed temporary jobs continued to trend downward; these groups have fallen by 1.2 million over the last 12 months.

People who were employed part-time for economic reasons (the “involuntary part-time workers”) numbered 8.3 million, essentially unchanged in February. The number of persons who were marginally attached to the workforce was up to 2.7 million in February from 2.5 million in January. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not looked for work in the four weeks preceding the survey. The marginally unemployed included 1.0 million discouraged workers, who believe that no work is available for them, down by 184,000 from last year. The remaining 1.7 million had not searched for work for such reasons as school  attendance or  family responsibilities.

Since a recent employment low in February 2010, total payroll employment has grown by 1.3 million or 106,000/month.

The report had the following to say about employment in various industries:

“Manufacturing employment rose by 33,000 in February. Almost all of the gain occurred in durable goods industries, including machinery (+9,000) and fabricated metal products (+7,000). Manufacturing has added 195,000 jobs since its most recent trough in December 2009; durable goods manufacturing added 233,000 jobs during this period.

Construction employment grew by 33,000 in February, following a decline of 22,000 in January that may have reflected severe winter weather. Within construction, specialty trade contractors accounted for the bulk of the February job gain (+28,000).

Employment in the service-providing sector continued to expand in February, led by a gain of 47,000 in professional and business services. Employment services added 29,000 jobs, and employment rose by 7,000 in management and technical consulting. Within employment services, the number of jobs in temporary help services edged up over the month.

Health care employment continued to increase in February (+34,000). Over the prior 12 months, health care had added 260,000 jobs, or an average of 22,000 jobs per month.

Transportation and warehousing employment increased by 22,000 in February, with half of that gain in truck transportation (+11,000).

Employment in both state and local government edged down over the month. Local government has lost 377,000 jobs since its peak in September 2008.”

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised from +121,000 to +152,000, and the change for January was revised from +36,000 to +63,000.

-Bill at

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