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Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release

Advance copies of this statement are made available to the press 
under lock-up conditions with the explicit understanding that 
the data are embargoed until 8:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

                            Statement of

                          William W. Beach
                     Bureau of Labor Statistics

                       Friday, March 6, 2020

      Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 273,000 in February, and 
the unemployment rate was little changed at 3.5 percent. Notable 
employment gains occurred in health care and social assistance, 
food services and drinking places, government, construction, 
professional and technical services, and financial activities.
      Incorporating revisions for December and January, which 
increased payroll employment by 85,000, monthly job gains have 
averaged 243,000 over the past 3 months.
      Employment rose by 57,000 in health care and social 
assistance in February. Health care employment increased by 
32,000, with gains in offices of physicians (+10,000), home 
health care services (+10,000), and hospitals (+8,000). 
Employment in social assistance increased by 25,000, mostly 
within individual and family services (+18,000). Over the year, 
employment has risen by 368,000 in health care and by 191,000 in 
social assistance.
      Employment in food services and drinking places increased 
by 53,000 in February. The industry has added 252,000 jobs over 
the past 7 months, after a lull in job growth earlier in 2019.
      Government employment rose by 45,000 over the month, 
including an increase of 16,000 in state government education. 
Federal government employment increased by 8,000 in February, as 
7,000 temporary workers were hired for the 2020 Census.
      Construction employment increased by 42,000 in February, 
following an increase of 49,000 in January. In 2019, the 
industry added an average of 13,000 jobs per month. In February, 
job gains occurred in specialty trade contractors (+26,000) and 
residential building (+10,000).
      Professional and technical services added 32,000 jobs in 
February and 285,000 jobs over the past 12 months. Over the 
month, job gains occurred in architectural and engineering 
services (+10,000) and in scientific research and development 
services (+5,000). Employment continued to trend up in computer 
systems design and related services (+8,000).
      Employment increased by 26,000 in financial activities over 
the month. Job gains occurred in real estate (+8,000) and in 
credit intermediation and related activities (+6,000).
      Employment in other major industries--including mining, 
manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and 
warehousing, and information--showed little change in February.
      Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm 
payrolls rose by 9 cents in February to $28.52, following a gain 
of 6 cents in January. Over the past 12 months, average hourly 
earnings have risen by 3.0 percent; the over-the-year percent 
change has been 3.0 percent or above for 19 consecutive months. 
From January 2019 to January 2020, the Consumer Price Index for 
All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased by 2.5 percent (on a 
seasonally adjusted basis).
      The major labor market indicators from the survey of 
households continued to show little or no change in February. 
Both the unemployment rate, at 3.5 percent, and the number of 
unemployed people, at 5.8 million, remained little changed over 
the month. The unemployment rate has been either 3.5 percent or 
3.6 percent for the past 6 months.
      Among the unemployed, the number of people searching for 
work for 27 weeks or more was about unchanged at 1.1 million in 
February. These long-term unemployed accounted for 19.2 percent 
of the unemployed.
      The labor force participation rate remained at 63.4 percent 
in February. The employment-population ratio was little changed 
at 61.1 percent but was up by 0.4 percentage point over the 
      In February, 4.3 million people were working part time for 
economic reasons (also referred to as involuntary part-time 
workers), little changed from the previous month.
      Among those neither working nor looking for work in 
February, 1.4 million were considered marginally attached to the 
labor force, little changed over the month. (People who are 
marginally attached to the labor force had not looked for work 
in the 4 weeks prior to the survey but wanted a job, were 
available for work, and had looked for a job within the last 12 
months.) Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally 
attached who believed no jobs were available for them, numbered 
405,000 in February, also little changed from a month earlier.
      Summarizing the labor market developments in February, 
nonfarm payroll employment rose by 273,000, and the unemployment 
rate was little changed at 3.5 percent.

Last Modified Date: September 23, 2020