Total U.S. jobs grew by 295,000 in February, and unemployment rate declined to 5.5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The total number of unemployed individuals also trended down in February, and is now at 8.7 million. Over the course of the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed were down by 1.2 percent and at 1.7 million, respectively.
Employment in financial activities saw a gain of 10,000 in February, which is in line with its previous 12-month average increase of 13,000. Financial activities have actually recovered 56% of the 718,000 jobs that were lost between the peak and decline of the job market, between December 2006 and February 2011.
Employment in professional and business services continues to rise
Employment in professional and business services increased by 51,000 in February and has seen an increase of 660,000 over the year. In February, employment continued to trend up in management and technical consulting services with an increase of 7000, computer systems design and related services seeing an increase of 5000, and architectural and engineering services seeing an increase of 5000.
The total increase of by 295,000 jobs is an overall increase compared to an average monthly gain of 266,000 over the prior 12 months. Job increases occurred in food services and drinking places, business and professional services, construction, health care, and in transportation and warehousing.
The number of long-term unemployed, a phrase that is defined as people without a job for 27 weeks or more, was relatively unchanged at 2.7 million in February. These individuals accounted for 31.1 percent of the unemployed. Over the past year, the number of long-term unemployed individuals is down by 1.1 million. The civilian labor force participation rate remained steady in February at 62.8% and has stayed within a narrow range of 62.7 to 62.9% for almost a year, since April of 2014. The employment-population ratio was steady at 59.3% in February but is up by a total of 0.5 percentage points over the year.
In February, the number of people employed part-time for economic reasons – this is sometimes also called involuntary part-time workers – was little changed in at 6.6 million individuals. This group would have preferred full-time employment but were working part time because either their hours had been cut back or they have been unable to find a full-time position.
2.2 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in February, which is a number little changed from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals wanted work and were available to work, were not in the labor force, and had searched for a job sometime in the past twelve months. Because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks before the survey, they are not counted as unemployed.
Part of the group of marginally attached was 732,000 discouraged workers in February. Discouraged workers are persons who do not believe jobs are available to them, and therefore are not currently looking for. The remaining 1.4 million marginally attached to the labor force in February cited reasons for not looking for work, such as responsibilities to family and attendance at school.
The average private, nonfarm workweek remains steady for 5 months
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls in February was 34.6 hours, which is steady for the fifth consecutive month. The manufacturing workweek was also unchanged at 41.0 hours in February, but factory overtime decreased by 0.1 hour to 3.4 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was steady at 33.8 hours.
In February, the average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payroll was at $24.78, a 3 cents increase. Over the year, average hourly earnings have seen a rise of 2.0 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees were unchanged in February, at $20.80.
For more insight on the salary predictions for 2015, request your free copy of the 2015 Accounting Principals Salary Guide.
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