The newest Labor Department job numbers indicate a surprising surge in February on the heels of a solid start to 2020, with an increase of 273,000 jobs for the month. (It is generally accepted that a range of approximately 130-150,000 new jobs per month is needed to absorb the expanding workforce). Even the non-seasonally adjusted figures for construction showed strength with unemployment at 5.5 percent [only 0.1 basis point above January, BUT down 0.7 basis points from a year ago in February 2019 when it stood at 6.2%]. In the first two months of 2020, employment in the construction industry has expanded by some 90,000 positions.
The overall unemployment figure slipped to 3.5 percent, a record 50-year low. (“Unemployed persons” remained at 5.8 million per the government count). The “labor force participation” rate also ticked-up to 63.4 percent. [NOTE: The “labor force participation” rate 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 to 61.1 percent. Average hourly earnings for employees again improved/increased at 3.0% (over the last 12-months).
SEE more Workforce Statistics.