Unemployment Rate Edges Up to 3.6%
Another 311,000 jobs were launched in February. This compares with an average monthly gain of 343,000 over the prior six months. Fairly modest adjustments to January and December numbers lowered overall job creation figures for those two months by a total of 34,000 jobs.
The strongest showings for February job creation were made in leisure and hospitality, retail trade, government, and healthcare.
The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.6% in February, thought to be a reflection of recent layoffs in the tech sector and more people looking for work.
Compensation levels continue to rise, with a small gain of 0.2% in February, bringing the average annual hourly increase to 4.6% over the past 12 months.
The average work week dropped to 34.5 hours for the month of February.
Temporary job trends:
The temp sector recorded a modest increase of 6,800 jobs in February, about half the number recorded the previous month, after adjustment.
What does it all mean?
The jobs growth shown in the latest labor market report indicates ongoing recovery from the devastating impacts of the pandemic. Although we continue to get closer to pre-pandemic levels of employment in key sectors, we have not yet reached the end goal.
Strong job growth of more than 300,000 would seem like a highly positive indicator of a healthy economy, yet the news did not elicit universal joy from all those economists who predicted lower numbers. Strong jobs growth, low unemployment, and rising wages also contribute to sustained inflation, prompting additional rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.
The slowing pace of both jobs growth and wage increases, in comparison to recent months, appears to indicate a bit of a slackening of forward momentum, however. That might spur a slowing of interest rate hikes and encourage greater investments. As the cycle turns, more investments in business will lead to a higher need for workers.
While it takes time to move through these cycles, the end result takes us back to a need for more people than are currently available to fill open jobs. That puts additional pressure on employers to seek out more innovative approaches to talent, while retaining an intense focus on recruitment, engagement, and retention.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CNBC, CNN, Staffing Industry Analysts, American Staffing Association, FOX News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Kiplinger,