Economy Watch: U.S. Economy Creates 235K Jobs in February

Job gains were fairly widespread among industries, including in those sectors that spur demand for office space, according to the latest BLS jobs report.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job creation was strong in February, with the economy creating a net of 235,000 positions during the month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. The gains were fairly widespread, with upticks in construction, private educational services, manufacturing, health care and mining. The headline unemployment rate edged down one-tenth of a percent to 4.7 percent, while the more expansive U-6 unemployment rate was 9.2 percent, down two-tenths of a percent.

Employment in professional and business services, which tend to add to the demand for office space, continued to trend up in February, by a net of 37,000 jobs. The sector has added 597,000 jobs over the last 12 months. Health care employment, a driver of specialized office space, was up by 27,000 for the month, and construction gained 58,000 positions.

Mining—which, according to the BLS, includes the oil and gas industry—saw an increase of 8,000 jobs for the month. The oil and gas industries have seen a moderate revival recently, which might eventually spur demand for office space in certain markets, especially Houston. Retail employment dropped for the month, losing 26,000 jobs, partly as an increasing number of retail chains closed a larger amount of their stores.

Another bit of good news from the February report: average hourly earnings for all employees (except farm workers) gained 6 cents for the month. That comes on the heels of a 5-cent gain in January. It’s possible that near-full employment is finally putting upward pressure on wages, at least in some industries. That would presumably be good for retailers eventually, unless consumers continue to spend even more online.