The U.S. economy added 242,000 jobs in February according to the official jobs report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also revised its totals for December and January upward by 30,000. In December, job totals were increased from the 262,000 previously reported to 271,000. In addition, the January numbers went up from 151,000 to 172,000 jobs. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 228,000 per month.
Experts predicted that 190,000 jobs would be added in February. However, the actual numbers are in line with the 214,000 private sector jobs that ADP reported on Wednesday. Of the 242,000 new jobs, 230,000 were in the private sector. The federal government added 5,000 jobs and local governments added 12,000 employees in February. State governments actually reduced their payrolls by 12,000.
The February numbers confirm that January was a blip, not a trend. The new figures show that the average job creation has averaged over 200,000 a month in 2014 and 2015.
Job growth occurred in most sectors of the economy. Gains were made in health care, social assistance, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and private educational services. Employment in mining continued to decline, however, due to low oil prices which have essentially stopped new production and exploration. Average hourly wages, however, declined slightly after gaining 12 cents an hour in January.
Most indices were unchanged, however. The unemployment rate remains at 4.9 percent. The unemployment rates for adult men (4.5 percent), adult women (4.5 percent), teenagers (15.6 percent), Whites (4.3 percent), Blacks (8.8 percent), Asians (3.8 percent), and Hispanics (5.4 percent) showed little or no change in February. The number of unemployed is unchanged at unemployed persons, at 7.8 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 2.2 million in February. These individuals accounted for 27.7 percent of the unemployed.
Health care and social assistance added 57,000 jobs in February. Over the past 12 months, hospitals have added 181,000 jobs due to the fact that more people now have insurance as a result of Obamacare.
Retail trade added 55,000 jobs in February due to increased consumer spending. Retail trade has added 339,000 jobs over the past 12 months. Food services and drinking places added 40,000 jobs in February. Over the year, employment in the industry has grown by 359,000.
Employment in private educational services rose by 28,000 in February, after edging down by 20,000 in the prior month. Construction employment continued to trend up in February adding 19,000 workers. Employment in construction was up by 253,000 over the past 12 months.
Employment in mining continued to decline in February by 19,000 jobs, with job losses in support activities for mining and coal mining. Since a recent peak in September 2014, mining has shed 171,000 jobs, with more than three-fourths of the loss in support activities for mining.
Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, professional and business services, and government, showed little change over the month.
The Federal Reserve raised interest rates and the stock market showed huge losses in the first two months of the year, but these have not affected hiring. This indicates that despite lower than anticipated GDP growth, the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are strong even though the economies in much of the rest of the world are weaker. This is a fact that the Obama Administration touts proudly.