Other - MARCH 8, 2019

Jobs fall in construction, as U.S. economy adds only 20,000 jobs in February

by Loretta Clodfelter

The U.S. economy added only 20,000 jobs in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a substantial drop from the previous month, and the unemployment rate was 3.8 percent.

“Slower job growth was expected and achieved in February after the robust gain of a now revised 311,000 jobs in January,” says Elizabeth Norton, managing research director at Transwestern. “The minimal 20,000 gain in February is lower than expected, however. The economy is poised to slow in 2019, a deceleration that has been expected after one of the longest recovery periods in history. In addition, the elevated snowfall likely acted as a drag to the numbers this month. However, like the January numbers, the low February gain is likely an anomaly and not a trend to rely on, at least not yet. With a low unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, finding hirable talent remains a challenge for many companies. There remains a scarcity of workers, with 7.3 million job openings against 6.2 million people looking for work.”

According to BLS, the unemployment rate declined by 20 basis points in February, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 300,000.

By job category, employment in professional and business services continued to trend up, with an increase of 42,000 jobs, in line with its average monthly gain over the prior 12 months. Healthcare added 21,000 jobs in February and 361,000 jobs over the year. In February, wholesale trade employment continued its upward trend with a gain of 11,000 jobs. The industry has added 95,000 jobs over the year, largely among durable goods wholesalers.

One of the biggest drops was employment in construction, which declined by 31,000 in February, partially offsetting an increase of 53,000 in January. Over the year, construction has added 223,000 jobs, according to BLS.

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