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Employment Increases, Buts So Does the Unemployment Rate

Fri, March 08, 2024 4:19 PM | Anonymous

The February BLS report was a mixed bag, with an increase of 275,000 new positions. (Well above the 130-150,000 range estimated increase needed on a monthly basis to stay-up with growing demographics).  As for construction, the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate creeped up to 7.0 percent for February, the highest in over two years. [The new unemployment figure is up only 0.1 basis points vs. January ‘24; but is 0.4 basis points above last February’s level].  Overall, employment continued to trend up in construction (+23,000), in line with the average monthly gain of 18,000 over the prior 12 months; with heavy and civil engineering construction adding 13,000 jobs.    
However, the general unemployment level, increased 0.2 basis points to 3.9 percent. (“Unemployed persons” was up to 6.5 million per the government count).  Meanwhile, the “labor force participation rate” stayed steady at 62.5 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 counted as unemployed by the DOL).  The “employment to population ratio” slipped down by a slight 0.1 basis to 60.1 percent. [Both measures haven’t reached their pre-Covid levels yet; if people were actually seeking jobs, the unemployment rate would be approximately 5.0% ].  Average hourly earnings continued to increase after a solid 2023, and now stands at $29.71 for private sector production and non-supervisory employees.

SEE Workforce Statistics Chart.

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