Employers add 192,000 jobs in February USA Today Employers in February hired at the fastest pace in almost a year and the unemployment rate fell to 8.9% — a nearly two-year low. Businesses added 192,000 jobs last month, with factories, professional and business services, education and health care among those expanding. Retailers, however, trimmed jobs. State and local governments, wrestling with budget shortfalls, slashed 30,000 jobs, the most since November. Federal government hiring was flat. Private employers added 222,000 jobs last month, the most since April. That shows companies are feeling more confident in the economy and about their own financial prospects. And it bolstered hopes that businesses will shift into a more aggressive hiring mode and boost the economic recovery. The unemployment rate is now the lowest since April 2009. It has been falling for three months, from 9.8% in November, the sharpest three-month decline since 1983. &quot;These numbers can be sustained and built on,&quot; says economist Joel Naroff at Naroff Economic Advisors. &quot;The economy is recovering, there is no question about it. Businesses are finally taking some of those profits they are earning and putting them back into the work force.“ The number of unemployed people dipped to 13.7 million, still almost double the number before the recession. When factoring in the number of part-time workers who would rather be working full time and those who have given up looking for work, the percentage of &quot;underemployed&quot; people dropped to 15.9% in February. That's the lowest in nearly two years. The positive news on the hiring front comes as the larger economy seems to be gaining momentum, although a second report Friday was mixed. The Commerce Department said that businesses ordered more manufactured goods from U.S. factories in January, but excluding a big surge in demand for airplanes, the rise in demand was the smallest in three months. Excluding the volatile transportation category, factory orders rose 0.7% in January, the weakest showing since October. And a key category that serves as a proxy for business investment plans fell by the largest amount in two years. Helped by the surge in demand for commercial aircraft, total business orders rose 3.1% in January, the biggest gain in more than four years. That pushed total orders up to $445.6 billion, a level that economists view as healthy and 26.3% above the recession low hit in March 2009. But shoppers are spending more. U.S. exporters are selling more abroad. Manufacturing is growing at the fastest pace in nearly seven years. And the service sector, which employs about 90% of the work force, is expanding at the fastest clip in more than five years. The 192,000 jobs added in February was a significant improvement from the 63,000 added in January. Some of the boost came as people resumed work, after dropping off payrolls because of bad weather in January. Still, the gains were widespread. Factories added 33,000 jobs. Education and health care added 40,000. Professional and businesses services added 47,000. Leisure and hospitality added 21,000 jobs. Construction companies added 33,000 jobs — although a good chunk of those reflected people coming back after January's harsh winter weather; transportation and warehousing added 22,000 jobs. The number of &quot;long-term&quot; unemployed, people out of work six months or more, sank to 5.99 million, down 217,000 from January. Workers' paychecks were mostly flat. Average hourly earning rose to $22.87 in February, up only one cent from January. Workers have little bargaining power to demand pay raises because the weak jobs market. And rising gasoline prices are putting more pressure on Americans' pocketbooks. Gasoline is averaging close to $3.50 a gallon nationwide. Those higher prices can force consumers to cut spending on other things. That has the potential to slow the recovery and hiring.
Is the February Jobs Report Good? Washington Post Compared with anything we’ve seen in the past three years -- including the numbers last spring, where were puffed up by temporary census hires -- it’s great. We created 192,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate fell below the psychologically important 9 percent mark. This is the sort of jobs report that could persuade businesses to start hiring and investing for real, as the only thing worse than getting into a recovering economy too early is getting into a recovering economy too late, and they’d be well served investing ahead of it rather than trying to play catch-up. But there are some dark clouds. The jobs report could’ve been better. If not for the 30,000 jobs the public sector lost, we’d have created 222,000 jobs. So it’s worth worrying that the House GOP is pushing a spending bill that economist Mark Zandi says will cost 700,000 jobs and Ben Bernanke says will cost a “couple hundred thousand” jobs. Zandi’s estimate is high enough to wipe out this jobs report and a few more like it. The most important thing for not only the economy, but also the long-term deficit, is that we get unemployment down, and fast. When businesses begin hiring again, that’ll mean more revenue rushing into state and federal coffers, it’ll mean gains in the stock market, it’ll mean lower social spending through programs like Medicaid and unemployment insurance. Sharp spending cuts may save us some money, but that doesn’t mean they’re a good deal, at least right now. What we need at the moment is more jobs reports like this one -- businesses need to be convinced that this is a recovery, not merely a good month. Anything that might get in the way should wait until we’ve had a few of them in a row.
February Jobs Report Shows Growth, But Nothing to Shout About; After Months of Disappointing Reports, February Meets Expectations US News and World Report After months of disappointing figures, February met expectations for employment gains, adding 192,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported. But while job seekers may see any upward trend as reason to celebrate, economists cautioned the job market still has a long way to go in this recovery. &quot;This feels good, but it's really not getting at the problem yet,&quot; says Al Angrisani, former Assistant Secretary of Labor, who now works with distressed companies. &quot;We're not creating enough jobs to really drive a long-term reduction in the unemployment rate.“ February's unemployment rate came in at 8.9 percent, a slight drop from the previous month's 9 percent. Economists say that number is misleading though, and may increase again before dropping significantly. It reflects a high number of discouraged workers, or people who have given up on looking for work, in addition to some job seekers landing positions. Job gains in February clustered in manufacturing, which saw an increase of 33,000; professional and business services, which added 47,000 jobs; and health care, which benefited from 34,000 new jobs. During the last year, the health care sector has consistently added jobs, gaining an average of 22,000 each month. Construction employment also grew by 33,000 in February, but that follows a 22,000 drop the previous month, which may have been at least partly due to harsh winter weather that disrupted hiring. Severe snowstorms were blamed for overall poor growth in January, and economists say some of the February gains this month are essentially making up for jobs we didn't add in January because of that weather. Economists focused on one number in particular that offers reason for optimism: 222,000 new jobs in the private sector. And the Department made positive revisions to overall figures from the last two months, boosting January's gain to 63,000 jobs rather than the originally reported 36,000, and December's gain to 152,000 jobs, up from 121,000. &quot;The sentiment is improving; the trend's improving,&quot; says Tig Gilliam, CEO of Adecco Group North America, a global recruitment firm. &quot;[But] it's going to be a couple of years, even with a reasonably strong recovering job market, to get back to even an 8 percent unemployment level.&quot; To put this all into perspective, recall how many jobs the economy lost during the end of 2008 and early 2009: 600,000-800,000 each month. When you consider that, a gain of 200,000 jobs is a drop in the bucket, especially when population growth is taken into account. And yet, job growth of nearly 200,000 is better than what we've seen in previous months. &quot;We're starting to see a bit of a turn here,&quot; says Michael Darda, chief economist and chief market strategist at MKM Partners, an equity research firm. He put out a report this week called &quot;A Critical Mass of Labor Indicators Have Turned,&quot; looking at recent positive signs from three indicators: first-time jobless claims; Automatic Data Processing, Inc.'s employment report, known as the ADP report, which focuses on the private sector; and the ISM indexes, a survey by the Institute for Supply Management that tracks manufacturing and service jobs. &quot;[They're] all showing the labor market picking up some momentum, which is encouraging and hopeful,&quot; Darda says. Several online job boards reported increases as well, indicators that are more forward-looking than the Labor Department's employment report because they consider job openings rather than new hires. &quot;We're seeing the number of jobs openings nearing pre-recession levels,&quot; says Daniel Greenberg, chief marketing officer at SimplyHired.com, a job-listings aggregator. As for the total number of unemployed, that remained steady at 13.7 million. About 44 percent of those people have been jobless for at least 27 weeks, a group that's known as the long-term unemployed. So is it safe to be cautiously optimistic? That depends, Angrisani says. &quot;The-glass-is-half-full guys are going to say, 'We're going to get there, we're on the right track.' The glass-is-half-empty guys are going to say, 'We should be there.'“ For the glass-half-full folks, Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics, an economic-research firm, said in an e-mail that he expects payrolls to see consistently larger gains in coming months. &quot;During 2011, we'll probably see at least one month with a 300,000 print,&quot; he wrote.
Washington Post The nation’s economic woes boil down to this. Compared with a healthy economy, about 7 million working-age people and 5 percent of the nation’s industrial capacity are sitting idle, not producing what they could. The economy is growing again, but at a rate — less than 2 percent in recent months — that’s too slow to keep up with a population that keeps increasing and workers who keep getting more efficient. This is the output gap, the divide between the amount the United States can produce and what it is actually producing. The gap, currently $900 billion, explains why we feel so miserable more than a year into what is technically classified as an economic recovery.
Average Length of Unemployment Reaches High New York Times Blog The average duration of unemployment climbed to a high of 37.1 weeks in February. You can see the trend in this somewhat scary chart: You might be scratching your head right now. Why is the typical spell of unemployment getting longer, even though companies are finally adding jobs? A few factors are probably responsible. The first thing to consider is that there is some inertia to unemployment, for a whole host of complicated reasons like prejudice against idle workers. People who have been out of work for a year are much less likely to find a job in the coming month than people who have been out of work for just a month. In other words, even though businesses have picked up hiring, they’re probably disproportionately hiring people who have spent less time out of work. That leaves more of the long-term unemployed in the jobless pool, with each of those individual workers racking up even more weeks. The net effect is to pull up the overall average length of unemployment. (The median length of unemployment on the other hand ticked downward in February, to 21.2 weeks from 21.8 weeks.) Additionally, many economists believe that the many extensions of unemployment insurance benefits have prolonged the number of weeks that people are officially categorized as unemployed. That’s for two reasons: First, the cushion of jobless benefits allows workers to go longer without starting a new job. With some pocket money still coming in, maybe they’re not looking as intensively for work; maybe they’ve put off starting at a new job they’ve already accepted; or maybe they’ve turned down a job offer they’re not crazy about because unemployment benefits afford them the flexibility to wait and find something better. Second, in order to qualify for jobless benefits, workers must actively be searching for work. And some people who can’t find jobs might give up looking once their benefits end, causing them to no longer technically qualify as “unemployed” (people who aren’t actively searching for jobs are considered “out of the labor force,” rather than “unemployed”). But since they can still receive jobless benefits for longer today than they could have a few years ago, they may delay dropping out of the labor force, and thereby have a higher tally of weeks spent “unemployed.” Here is one recent paper, by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cincinnati, that examines how unemployment insurance extensions affected unemployment in the last three years. Update: It turns out the Bureau of Labor Statistics has just changed the way it calculates the duration of unemployment, starting with data for January and February of 2011 . In other words, the numbers from the last two months are not exactly comparable to data from previous months and years. Under the old system, average unemployment duration for January and February would have been 35.7 weeks and 35.6 weeks, respectively, rather than the 36.9 weeks and 37.1 weeks reported under the new system. Even under the old system, these two months would still have the two highest average durations of unemployment on record. But I wanted to clarify in case you’re wondering why there was such a big jump between December (34.2 weeks) and January (36.9 weeks) in the chart above, which did not previously note that there was a break in the series between those two months. In case you’re wondering, the Bureau of Labor Statistics decided to change its methodology because their surveyors, in asking unemployed people about how long they were unemployed, could not accept as an answer a length of time that was greater than “two years,” such that even people unemployed for six years were being recorded as being jobless for only “two.” Given the unprecedented rise in the duration of unemployment in recent years, the Labor Department decide this was a problem and so changed their coding system. Now they will record lengths of unemployment that last as long as five years.
Comparing Recoveries: Job Changes New York Times Blog Horizontal axis shows months. Vertical axis shows the ratio of that month’s nonfarm payrolls to the nonfarm payrolls at the start of recession. Note: Because employment is a lagging indicator, the dates for these employment trends are not exactly synchronized with National Bureau of Economic Research’s official business cycle dates. The United States added 192,000 jobs on net in February, the Labor Department reported today, up from a gain of 63,000 jobs in January. Both numbers were probably distorted by some unusually severe snowstorms in January, but taken together they do not represent a significant change from what we saw in monthly job growth last fall. The industries with the biggest gains included construction (again, partly because of weather effects), manufacturing, professional and business services, and health care and social assistance. The losers were state and local governments, which have been shedding more and more workers as their budget troubles get worse. Even most of the winners, though, have a long way to go before returning to their prerecession levels, if they ever do. The chart above shows economy-wide job changes in this last recession and recovery compared with other recent ones, with the black line representing the current downturn. Since the downturn began in December 2007, the economy has shed, on net, about 5.4 percent of its nonfarm payroll jobs. And that doesn’t even account for the fact that the working-age population has continued to grow, meaning that if the economy were healthy we should have more jobs today than we had before the recession. The unemployment rate (measured by a different government survey, and based on how many people are without jobs but are actively looking for work) fell to 8.9 percent in February, from 9 percent in January. That means joblessness is at its lowest rate in nearly two years. The number may go up again though, as more discouraged workers return to actively searching for jobs when they hear employers are hiring again.
Big Jump in Private Jobs Bolsters Recovery Hopes New York Times (Online) The economic waiting game may soon be over, as businesses signal that they are finally willing to resume widespread hiring. In all, the nation added 192,000 jobs in February, a big jump from the 63,000 added the previous month, the Labor Department reported on Friday . The job growth was the most in nearly a year, and the 12th consecutive month of gains by companies, which added 222,000 workers last month. It followed an unusually weak report in January, when major snowstorms across the country prompted offices and factories to close. Taken together, the first two months of the year produced growth at about the same pace as last fall. Economists say they are hopeful the pace will soon pick up further. “ Economic recoveries can be like a snowball rolling down a hill, in that it takes time to get some momentum,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics. “People hesitate until they feel that the recovery’s durable enough, and then they have a tendency to jump in. Maybe we’re finally getting to that jumping-in moment.” Threats to a more robust recovery remain, of course, including a surge in energy and food prices , with the possibility of disruptions in oil production in the Middle East continuing to weigh on the financial markets. State and local governments are also shedding jobs, which depressed the total for February, as they grapple with budget woes. But for now, the improvement is notable. The unemployment rate ticked down to 8.9 percent last month, falling below 9 percent for the first time in nearly two years. This rate, which comes from a survey separate from the payroll numbers and is based on the total number of Americans who want to work, has remained stubbornly high the last year. Altogether, 13.7 million people are still out of work and actively looking. Economists say the unemployment rate could rise temporarily in the next few months, as stronger job growth lures some discouraged workers to look for jobs again. Right now, just 64.2 percent of adults are actively involved in the work force, meaning they are either in a job or actively looking for one. That is the lowest participation rate in 25 years, an indication that many Americans are either staying home, going back to school, raising children or otherwise waiting for better conditions before applying for work. “ It’s a puzzle, a genuine puzzle why that number has been stuck,” a senior economist at Credit Suisse , Jay Feldman, said. “I expect it to recover somewhat in the coming months as the labor market improves and more people become encouraged about their job prospects.” Other recent economic reports — like those on unemployment claims and manufacturing — have pointed to stronger demand for workers. The Federal Reserve , in a survey of its 12 districts, noted on Wednesday that the labor market had improved modestly, but the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke , told lawmakers that “until we see a sustained period of stronger job creation, we cannot consider the recovery to be truly established.” The unemployment rate has fallen from a peak of 10.1 percent in this downturn. A broad measure of unemployment, which includes people working part time because they cannot find full-time jobs and those so discouraged that they have given up searching, dipped to 15.9 percent in February, from 16.1 percent in January. Job gains appeared in nearly every industry last month. Among the biggest winners were the manufacturing, construction, and professional and business services industries. Construction payrolls bounced back from a very low level in January, when severe snowstorms hindered activity. “ In some cases it’s very hard to judge how big the underlying improvement there is in this data,” said Nigel Gault, chief United States economist at IHS Global Insight. State and local governments, squeezed by revenue shortfalls and a reluctance to raise taxes, again laid off workers. Local governments have eliminated 377,000 jobs since September 2008, when their employment last peaked. “ There’s no work out here,” said Julio Santiago, 33, a mechanic who repaired police cars and sanitation trucks for the city of Newark before he was let go last November. He and his wife, who has been job-hunting for two years, have canceled their children’s summer camp plans, cut out cable and Internet, borrowed from friends and even given away the family dog to make ends meet. “ The only work they have is only temporary work, or one or two days a week, and I can’t afford to do that,” Mr. Santiago said. “Plus they told me they may cut my unemployment benefits if I take those jobs, even if they know I’m only getting to work a few hours a week.” Federal payrolls were unchanged in February, but federal employees may also be at risk of significant layoffs if Republican leaders in Congress are successful with their proposed budget cuts. Economists at Goldman Sachs and elsewhere have warned that such budget cuts could ripple through the economy and lead to layoffs in the private sector. “I am optimistic we can get to a bipartisan budget agreement, whereby the government is on a path to staying within its means without derailing the recovery and slowing the job creation engine,” said Austan Goolsbee , chairman of President Obama ’s Council of Economic Advisers . “What we cut, and how, matters.” Rising prices for energy and food also remain a risk to job growth, economists say, as they leave less money for consumers and businesses to spend on other purchases that could potentially spur hiring. The contract for future delivery of light sweet crude oil rose to $104.42 a barrel on Friday, an increase of nearly $7 for the week, depressing the major stock indexes, which were down less than 1 percent on the day. Many economists forecast that job growth will pick up later this year to a rate of more than 200,000 a month. While that would be a welcome development compared with the modest growth in January and the bloodletting during the recession , it still is not fast enough to recover much of the ground lost. Since the downturn began in December 2007, the economy has shed 7.5 million jobs, or about 5.4 percent of its nonfarm payrolls. If the country adds 200,000 jobs every month, it would take more than three years to return to the employment level before the recession. And that does not take into account the fact that the working-age population has continued to grow — meaning that if the economy were healthy, it would have more jobs today than before the recession. While gains by industry have been relatively widespread, the benefits to workers themselves have not been as universal. Workers who have already been unemployed for months or even years , for example, have had trouble getting employers to consider them. As a result, even though those out of work a few weeks have gotten new jobs, the average duration of unemployment has climbed to the unusually high level of 37.1 weeks. Many of these long-term unemployed are older workers who are considering giving up and could permanently leave the job market. Men and women have also been affected differently by the recovery. While men bore the brunt of job losses in the recession, requiring more women to serve as their family breadwinners , that has since changed. In the last year the share of men with jobs has risen and the share of women with jobs has fallen. In fact, the portion of women working declined to 53.2 percent in February, the lowest share since 1988.
Jobless Benefit Filings Fall to a Nearly 3-Year Low THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The number of people requesting unemployment benefits fell last week for the third time in four weeks and reached the lowest level in nearly three years, a government report said Thursday. The Labor Department said applications for unemployment benefits fell by 20,000, to a seasonally adjusted 368,000, the lowest level since late May 2008. The four-week average for applications, a less volatile figure, fell last week to 388,500. That was the lowest level since July 2008, the last time the four-week average was below 400,000. Economists say applications that remain consistently below 375,000 tend to signal declines in the unemployment rate. Applications for benefits peaked during the recession at 651,000. The downward trend suggests that companies are easing the pace of layoffs as the economy gains momentum. During the recession, companies slashed work forces, cut or froze workers’ pay and took other aggressive steps to reduce costs. In a second economic report on Thursday, the Labor Department said that productivity grew in the final quarter of 2010 at the fastest rate in nine months. Economists had expected a significant slowdown in growth in 2011. Productivity grew at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter while labor costs fell at an annual rate of 0.6 percent. Both figures were unchanged from a preliminary report a month ago. For the year, productivity grew 3.9 percent, the biggest increase in eight years. However, economists say they believe productivity may grow at just half that rate in 2011 as companies reach the limit on the amount of output they can squeeze out of their workers and start hiring more employees. The service sector grew in February at the fastest rate in more than five years, according to the Institute for Supply Management . It marked the sixth straight monthly increase. The sector covers a broad range of industries including retail, health care and financial services. A survey of top forecasters from the National Association for Business Economics this week predicted that productivity would advance 2.1 percent this year and 1.9 percent in 2012. While those gains would be in line with the growth trend over the last three decades, it would represent a significant slowdown after a surge over the last two years. The 3.9 percent jump in productivity in 2010 followed a 3.7 percent rise in 2009. Both figures were the highest since productivity rose 4.6 percent in 2002, the largest increase in a half century. Normally, a slowdown in productivity would be considered bad for the economy. But the two-year surge came at the expense of many workers. Companies shed eight million jobs during the recession and the economy needs job growth now, even at the expense of worker productivity, economists say. The 2.6 percent rise in productivity in the fourth quarter was the best quarterly showing since an increase of 4.6 percent in the first three months of 2010. The 0.6 percent drop in unit labor costs was the first quarterly decline since labor costs fell at a 4.6 percent rate in the first quarter of 2010. For the year, unit labor costs declined 1.5 percent after having fallen 1.6 percent in 2009.
Economic Data March 2011
Reflective of the February 2011 National Jobs Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics ECONOMIC DATA As of March 2011
PRIVATE AND TEMPORARY GROWTH CONTINUES JOBS GAINED IN FEBRUARY UNEMPLOYMENT RATE WORST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE SINCE 192,000 8.9% 1983 *Current recession excluded
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DECREASES TO 8.9% Source: Labor Department
TWO YEARS IN UNEMPLOYEMENT DATA Source: Washington Post
A LOOK AT MONTHLY JOB CHANGES Source: US News & World Report
THE POTENTIAL PACES OF RECOVERY Source: WashingtonPost.com
AVERAGE LENGTH OF UNEMPLOYEMENT Source: WallStreetJournal.com
Leisure & Hospitality Construction Manufacturing Retail Legal Accounting Architecture/Engineering Financial Activities IT/Technical Healthcare Temporary +33 +21 +33 -8.1 -2.9 -2.3 +3.1 +3 +10.8 +34.3 +15.5 SECTOR CHANGES FOR FEBRUARY In thousands
EDUCATION CONTINUES TO BE THE JOB SEARCH DIFFERENTIATOR….
Source: NYTimes.com PRIVATE SECTOR GROWS WITH THE LAG OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR
<ul><li>The February jobs report shows real signs of recovery yet economists worry of shaky economic ground with rising oil prices and Middle East unrest … </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>The unemployment rate drop to 8.9% marks the third month of increasing employment </li></ul><ul><li>Temporary jobs rebounded from January’s losses adding 15,500 jobs </li></ul><ul><li>The private sector gaining 222,000 jobs in February indicates increasing strength outpacing the public sector </li></ul><ul><li>The report included revisions increased hiring numbers for both December and January </li></ul><ul><li>Weaknesses </li></ul><ul><li>Economists expect the unemployment rate might rise again before steadily falling </li></ul><ul><li>The average work week remained stagnant at 34.2 hours </li></ul><ul><li>Certain sectors remain stronger than others, while construction and manufacturing added jobs in February, the overall strength of the industry is depleted following the recession </li></ul>IN SUMMARY