Unemployment rate drops to 3.8%


For the third month in a row, the labor market continued to expand with the creation of 678,000 new jobs in February.


Widespread job creation saw the numbers of new jobs rise across every key segment, including leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, healthcare, construction, transportation and warehousing, and retail trade.


Another strong marker of a rebounding economy, the unemployment rate dipped by nearly two-tenths of a percentage point to 3.8%.  


Pay rates were little changed from January to February, although the 12-month average monthly wage dipped down from 5.7% to 5.1%.


People put in longer days in February, with the length of the average work week rising slightly to 34.7 hours.


February was a record-breaking month for the temporary help sector. In gaining another 35,500 jobs in February, well ahead of the 26,000 jobs created last month, it also brought year-over-year growth up to 9.6%. That pushed total temporary employment to 3,146,200, the highest number of temp jobs ever.


Another month of strong jobs growth and lower unemployment reinforces the expectation that life as we knew it is poised to resume. More of the unemployed have joined the workforce, and fewer people are working remotely. Temporary employment is at its highest level ever. Wages are up significantly for many lower-skilled occupations, although inflation has taken a serious bite out of what should have been a big plus for the workforce.

Also on the downside, there are still nearly 11 million unfilled jobs in America. While we remain two million jobs shy of pre-pandemic employment, a return to somewhat normal is within reach. Since the start of the pandemic, employers have learned some valuable lessons about what employees really want and how to stay in sync with employee expectations. That should make it easier to fill even the most difficult roles, as employers adjust jobs to fit workers and look to technology to boost recruiting effectiveness and to recruiting partners to identify hidden talent.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Steinberg Employment Research, Staffing Industry Analysts, American Staffing Association, Business Insider, FOX Business, CNBC, NBC, The New York Times