US Job Growth Almost Stalls in February


Nonfarm payrolls in the US increased by 20 thousand in February of 2019, following an upwardly revised 311 thousand rise in January and well below market expectations of 180 thousand. It is the lowest reading since February of 2017, mainly due to falls in construction employment while jobs were added in professional and business services, health care, and wholesale trade.

In February, employment in professional and business services continued to trend up (+42,000), in line with its average monthly gain over the prior 12 months. 

Health care added 21,000 jobs in February and 361,000 jobs over the year. Employment in ambulatory health care services edged up over the month (+16,000). 

In February, wholesale trade employment continued its upward trend (+11,000). The industry has added 95,000 jobs over the year, largely among durable goods wholesalers. 

Employment in construction declined by 31,000 in February, partially offsetting an increase of 53,000 in January. In February, employment declined in heavy and civil engineering construction (-13,000). Over the year, construction has added 223,000 jobs.

Manufacturing employment changed little in February (+4,000), after increasing by an average of 22,000 per month over the prior 12 months.

In February, employment in leisure and hospitality was unchanged, after posting job gains of 89,000 and 65,000 in January and December, respectively. Over the year, leisure and hospitality has added 410,000 jobs.

Employment in other major industries, including mining, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, showed little or no change over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in February. In manufacturing, the average workweek declined 0.1 hour to 40.7 hours, while overtime was unchanged at 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls fell by 0.2 hour to 33.6 hours. 

In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 11 cents to $27.66, following a 2-cent gain in January. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.4 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 8 cents to $23.18 in February. 

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised up from +222,000 to +227,000, and the change for January was revised up from +304,000 to +311,000. With these revisions, employment gains in December and January combined were 12,000 more than previously reported. After revisions, job gains have averaged 186,000 per month over the last 3 months. 

US Job Growth Almost Stalls in February


BLS | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com
3/8/2019 1:42:16 PM