Retail, manufacturing jobs rise in Feb. as unemployment rate falls
By Jay Keller
The strong job growth published in February’s employment situation by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed signs that higher taxes and government spending cuts didn’t shake employer’s confidence in the economy.
“The manufacturing sector has added over half a million jobs over the last 37 months, the most for any such period since 1986,” wrote chief White House economist Alan Krueger.
Retailers added 252,000 jobs over the past 12 months and February showed employment gains in wholesale trade, food service and drinking places.
Notable job growth also came from construction, the highest since 2007, with Krueger noting that the construction sector has added 306,000 jobs in the last two years, with half of that increase occurring in the last five months.
The unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent with fewer unemployed persons (12 million) but has shown little movement, on net, since September 2012.
The estimate of unemployment is based on a monthly sample survey of households and includes the jobless and those actively seeking and available to work.
The official unemployment rate excludes people who want a job but are not currently looking for work.
There are separate estimates that include discouraged workers, or those including Americans who believe no jobs are available and, subsequently, are not currently looking for work.
The number of long-term unemployed, those jobless for 27 weeks or more, remained unchanged in Feb. at 4.8 million.
The numbers were split between the number of unemployed who found work and those who dropped out of the workforce.
“While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides evidence that the recovery that began in mid-2009 is gaining traction,” wrote chief White House economist Alan Krueger.
Employers added slightly fewer jobs in January than the government had first estimated but December hiring was better than first predicted.
In February, the total average workweek hovers around 34.5 hours but the manufacturing workweek rose to 40.9 hours and factory overtime edged up to 3.4 hours.
Average hourly earnings for all employees have risen by 2.1 percent over the past year to land at $23.82 in Feb.