Economy Watch: Economy Creates 310K Jobs in February

The increase in U.S. employment is a considerable boost from January's revised total of 239,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 2018
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 2018

Total payroll employment increased by a net of 313,000 jobs in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday. That’s a considerable increase from January’s revised total of 239,000. Employment continued to rise in some real estate-related sectors, such as construction, retail trade, professional and business services, manufacturing, and financial activities.

Construction added 61,000 jobs in February, with most of the increase occurring among specialty trade contractors (up 38,000), the BLS reported. Over the last four months, construction employment has increased by 185,000 jobs, pointing to strong demand in that sector as both nonresidential and residential projects go forward.

Employment in professional and business services, which tends to drive office demand, increased by 50,000 in February and has risen by 495,000 during the last 12 months. Another office space driver, financial activities, added 28,000 jobs over the month, and 143,000 during the last 12 months.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private payrolls rose by 4 cents to $26.75 in February, following an 7-cent gain in January. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 68 cents, or 2.6 percent, which is only a bit ahead of inflation.

The headline unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent, down from 4.7 percent a year ago. The more expansive definition of unemployment, the U-6, which includes workers who are only marginally attached to the workforce— such as those working part time who want full-time jobs—came in at 8.2 percent, unchanged from January, but down from 9.2 percent a year ago.