Jobs expanded at a healthy clip in February by 379,000 according the latest Labor Department figures (well above the 130-150,000 estimated increase needed on a monthly basis to stay-up with growing demographics). However, non-seasonally adjusted construction unemployment moved in the opposite direction increasing to 9.6 percent in February [up 0.2 percentage points vs. January ‘21, while remaining a sizeable 4.1 percentage points above a year ago in February 2020 when it stood at 5.5%]. Employment in construction fell by 61,000 jobs in February, largely reflecting declines in nonresidential specialty trade contractors (-37,000) and heavy and civil engineering construction (-21,000). Severe winter weather across much of the country may have held down employment in construction. Notwithstanding, employment in the industry is 308,000 below its level a year earlier.
The overall unemployment figure slide to 6.2 percent i.e., down 0.1 percentage point. (“Unemployed persons” also dropped to 10.0 million per the government count, down 100K). The “labor force participation” stayed constant at 61.4 percent. [NOTE: The “labor force participation” rate “typically” works inversely to the overall unemployment figures. Meaning: as it deteriorates/gets worse or smaller, it actually is counted as improving unemployment (i.e., people leaving the workforce are no longer viewed/counted as unemployed by the DOL). The “employment to population ratio” improved slightly to 57.6 percent. Average hourly earnings for employees remained essentially unchanged at $25.19, still fairly high due to the fact lower wage earners are being disproportionally impacted by the continuing partial government mandated shutdowns in some states and large cities.
SEE Workforce Statistics Chart