Nonfarm payroll employment was little changed (-36,000) in February, and theunemployment rate held at 9.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisticsreported today. 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 the measures. For more information on the effects of the severe weather on employment estimates, see the box note at the end of the release.
Let's take a look at the report's data.
The unemployment rate appears to have topped out. However,
The jobs picture is floating around 0 rather than positive gains.
From the household survey:
The number of unemployed people increased by 34,000, increasing from 14,837,000 to 14,871,000.
The household employment population increased by 308,000.
Not in the labor force decreased by 176,000.
From the establishment survey:
Total goods producing industries say 60,000 in losses, with the biggest hit to construction at -64,000. Manufacturing actually added 1,000 jobs along with 20,000 last month. That tells us the long increases in various manufacturing measures are starting to lead to some job growth. My guess is the drop in construction employment is weather related.
Service jobs increased 42,000, with a big increase coming in professional services (+51,000). Temp help again increased, this time by 47,500.
Average weekly hours decreased .1 while average hourly earnings increased $.03. Average weekly earnings also dipped because of the decrease in hourly earnings.
I'd call this report fair. The positive signs are in the household survey's increase in employment (which typically leads the establishment survey) and temporary work. That lack of a meaningful increase in jobs is disturbing, however.