March 10, 2003
Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 308,000 in February to 130.5 million, seasonally adjusted. Job losses were widespread in February, with the largest decreases in services and retail trade. Employment also fell sharply in construction and declines continued in manufacturing and in transportation and public utilities.
Employment in the manufacturing industry continued its downward trend. In February, 53,000 factory jobs were lost—about in line with the average monthly decline for the prior 6 months.
Retail trade employment decreased by 92,000 in February. This was the third month in a row with a large swing in retail employment; eating and drinking places accounted for a large share of the change in each of these months. From a longer term perspective, employment in eating and drinking places has been on a downward trend since July 2001.
Transportation and public utilities lost 41,000 jobs in February. Since its peak 2 years ago, this industry has lost over half a million jobs.
Construction employment dropped by 48,000 in February, following an increase of 26,000 in January. Since April 2002, construction employment has held at about 6.5 million.
Services employment fell by 86,000 in February; despite this decline, the industry has added more than half a million jobs since January 2002.
Payroll employment data are from the Current Employment Statistics program. The above data are seasonally adjusted. Data for January and February 2003 are preliminary and subject to revision. For more information, see "The Employment Situation: February 2003" (PDF) (TXT), news release USDL. 03-99.