February Jobs Report Shows Gains


The February Jobs Report is out and while there are positive signs the economy continues to improve, when looking in to specifics there are troubling signs as well.  First the facts, February marked the best month for job growth since November.  adding 236,000 jobs to payrolls according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  That’s a marked improvement over the adjusted number for January of 119,000 jobs.  It brought the unemployment rate to down to 7.7% from 7.9% in January.  That’s the lowest rate since December of 2008 when it sat at 7.3% but was heading in the wrong direction.  According to a survey by Reuters, Wall Street had expected the economy to add 160,000 jobs to payrolls which would have left the unemployment rate at 7.9%.  If the economy remains steady, job creation should remain at levels that will allow the unemployment rate to further decline.  However, although 5.7 million jobs have been added since the recession bottomed out in 2010, the economy is still at a deficit of 3.0 million jobs prior to the start of the recession in December of 2007.  That makes this recovery, the slowest since World War II.  In addition, when drilling down to the different worker groups, the Bureau of Labor Statistics explains that, “the unemployment rate for whites (6.8 percent)
declined in February while the rates for adult men (7.1 percent), adult women (7.0 percent), teenagers (25.1 percent), blacks (13.8 percent), and Hispanics (9.6 percent) showed little or no change.”  So the recovery is not affecting everyone equally and is not broad-based, it’s uneven. The three largest increases came from the private business (+73,000), construction (+48,000) and healthcare (+32,000) according to the labor report.  Focussing on the positive, retail (+24,000) does appear to be improving and if gas prices come down, the long, slow recovery should continue and should “trickle down” to those not as yet being helped by this recovery.  Of course that’s not much of a consolation to those who have had an extended stay on the unemployment rolls.

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