US Bureau of Labor report indicates increase in employment


The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest jobs report, which said that in February the total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 242,000 jobs while the unemployment rate remained stable at 4.9 percent.

According to the report, the employment rate has shown an increase in jobs in various sectors including: health care, social assistance, retail trade, food services and drinking places and educational services.

The private sector has reported 72 months of uninterrupted job gains, the longest record since the economic downturn in 2009. The report includes the extreme change in duration of unemployment in February in comparison to the average rate of 4.4 years.

Employment in health care and social assistance has increased over the past few months, indicating that the sector is improving.  Graphic By Joseph Esposito

In one year, the duration of unemployment decreased by 13.8 percent in comparison to the median, and 7.6 percent in comparison to the average rate. This means that during the month of February, people were unemployed for a significantly shorter period of time.

The report also reveals that the number of people either too discouraged to look for work or satisfied with a part-time job because they are unable to find one that is full-time, also fell by 0.2 to the 9.7 percent mark of last month.

The most positive statistic found with regards to the hiring rate is the evidence that those who had long been incapable of finding jobs were being placed back into the job market.

The overall share of Americans in the labor force increased 0.2 of a percentage point to 62.9 percent, a fairly encouraging sign that this could be an increasing trend in the upcoming months.

The February increase is especially significant in relation to the rates of previous years. A mere four years ago, the unemployment rate was at a whopping 8.3 percent. Now that it has fallen by 3.4 percent, there is much hope for a continual increase in employment in the job market.

However, it is to be noted that the change in economic cycle has created both hope and concern for economists.

Although the statistics do seem promising, they raise questions on the uneven balance of the economy. The economic gains are extremely dependent on the locations in which the workers live and the industries for which they are employed. Although health care has seen a great increase in employment by 38,000 jobs within the month, the mining and manufacturing industries have seen an adverse effect, and in fact, a greater unemployment rate than that of January. Just in February, the mining industry lost 19,000 jobs and the manufacturing industry reported a loss of 16,000.

Another reason for this discrepancy is that there has been greater demand for hospitality and service workers, often at lower wages than expected. The higher total job count hides losses in manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and energy. These are the better-paying industries that tend to be dominated by more highly qualified workers with regards to educational background.

The statistics are also presented comprehensively for the country as a whole and do not fully depict the areas of the United States in which employment rates have significantly risen or substantially decreased. The loss of jobs in the manufacturing and mining industries may not be as greatly felt in states with more diversified economies such as New York, but in Michigan or Ohio, the unemployment has called for concern.

A negative portion of the generally positive report released by the Labor Department is also found in wages, which actually decreased by 0.1 percent in February. This comes after a 0.5 percent increase documented one month prior. This statistic put the yearly growth in wages at a percentage rate of 2.2 percent.

Additionally, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls (excluding manufacturing) declined by 0.2 hours in February. The average workweek for production of the former also decreased by 0.1 hour.

To add to this, the average hourly earnings for employees actually decreased by 3 cents to $25.35. This decline follows the commendable increase by 12 cents that was reported in January. Many workers, although employed, are still enlisted in low paying jobs that are beneath their skill sets. Within all of the quantitative data is indeed a remarkable record of economic growth for the United States that should not discounted.

President Barack Obama released the following statement after the governmental report was released: “Our businesses have created jobs every single month since I signed that ‘job killing’ Obamacare bill,” he said. “Think about this: If somebody had told us seven years ago that we would get to this point — at a time when we were losing 800,000 jobs a month, and the unemployment rate hit 10 percent — we wouldn’t have believed it.”

The report is indicative of a slow but steady economic recovery especially in the job market. It is speculated that the possibility of a change in interest rates in the near future may come as a product of the increase.