Employment Situation (February 2014) Published by Bruce Steinberg

Quick recap

Although the unemployment rate incrementally increased to 6.7 percent in February, as standard practice with movements of only 0.1 percentage point, the official U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announcement characterized the movement “little changed.”  It was 7.7 percent one year ago. Keep in mind that this was the first employment report that included a major group that lost unemployment benefits.

Private sector job growth was 162,000 with analysts’ expectations all over the board as trying to factor in the impact of severe weather. But total nonfarm job growth was 175,000 when factoring in a 13,000 increase in government jobs (see more detail below).

Jobs Report

The number of jobs in the private Goods-producing sector grew by 22,000 in February, which was not as good as January’s gain of 61,000 but better than December’s loss of 13,000.

  • The Construction sector was essentially responsible for the Goods-producing sector’s rather weak growth by only adding 15,000 jobs in February after bringing in 50,000 in January, but was still better than the 20,000 jobs it left out in the cold (declined) in December.

  • Manufacturers were steady, albeit at a fairly low level, by assembling 6,000 new jobs in February and that same amount in January after adding 7,000 in December.  Motor vehicles and parts manufacturers added 3,400 jobs as Computer and electronic product manufacturers deleted 1,000 jobs.

  • Mining and logging added 1,000 jobs last month courtesy of its Oil and gas extraction sub-sector with 1,700 new jobs that help compensate for losses in other sub-sectors.

The private Service-providing sector recovered a bit from a relatively bad January (gain of only 84,000) and a somewhat weak December (up 99,000)  with an increase of 140,000 jobs in February.

  • The Retail trade sector

  • was still in the business of cutting its inventory of jobs with a decline of 4,100 jobs in February after removing 22,600 in January.

  • The pace at the Wholesale trade slowed a bit with an increase of 14,800 jobs in February, which was good, but not as good as the 20,500 jobs it added in January.

  • The Transportation and warehousing sector apparently got lost somewhere along the route with a decline of 3,600 jobs in February, which was change in direction from the 17,200 jobs it added in January.

  • Financial activities began to add to its balance sheet of workers with a gain of 9,000 in February after removing 2,000 in January. Much of last month’s growth can be traced back to the sector’s Insurance carriers and related activities sub-sector.

  • The Professional and business services sector’s growth improved in February (up 79,000) from January’s rather ho-hum growth of only 42,000 and December’s rather anemic gain of only 16,000 jobs. Computer systems design and related services added 5,000 jobs in January after adding 6,500 in January. Management and technical consulting services, which is a smaller sector, grew by 5,300 in February after losing less than 1,000 jobs in January. And just in case you needed a reminder that tax season is here, Accounting and bookkeeping services added 15,700 jobs in February.

  • The Education and health services sector added a total of 33,000 jobs in February driven, in part, by the sector’s highly seasonal Educational services sub-sector that added 18,200. Growth in the Health care and social assistance portion was14,700; Home health care services lost 3,800 jobs last month after adding 1,900 in January.

  • Leisure and hospitality sector continued to pick up the pace a little with 25,000 new jobs in February after growing by 22,000 in January.

Government jobs were up by 13,000 jobs. The federal government shrank by 6,000; State government added 11,000; and Local government was up by 8,000.

Temporary Help Services Roundup

In February, Temporary help services grew by a very healthy 24,400 jobs to a record 2,800,300. This was growth of 0.9 percent increase from January and a 8.9 percent increase from February 2013.  Incidentally, February was the first time in history that the number of Temporary help services jobs reached or breached 2,800,000.

And Temporary help service’s market share — that is its portion of all jobs — also hit an all-time high at 2.03 (actually 2.0336), the previous high-water mark also was 2.03, but was actually a bit lower (2.0288)

 Steinberg_chart Feb 2014

Household Survey

The  6.7 percent unemployment rate in February 2014 was incrementally higher than the 6.6 percent in January, but still an improvement from7.7 percent of February 2013.

 That 6.7 percent unemployment rate was the result of a labor force that expanded by 264,000, but there were only 42,000 more employed persons as the number of unemployed grew by 223,000. The number not in the labor force declined by 94,000.

 The employment-to-population ratio was unchanged at 58.8 percent in February (was 58.6 percent a year earlier) as the labor force participation rate was also unchanged at 63.0 percent in February (was 63.6 percent in February 2013). Curiously, the number of discouraged workers was down to 755,000 in February 2014 from 885,000 a year earlier.