February Jobs Report: The First Sign Of The Economic Slowdown Spreading To Jobs?


  • +20,000 jobs added
  • U3 unemployment rate -0.2% from 4.0% to 3.8%
  • U6 underemployment rate  -0.8% from 8.1% to 7.3% (NEW 20 YEAR LOW)

Here are the headlines on wages and the broader measures of underemployment:

Wages and participation rates

  • Not in Labor Force, but Want a Job Now: down -32,000 from 5.254 million to 5.222 million
  • Part-time for economic reasons: down -837,000 from 5.147 million to 4.510 million
  • Employment/population ratio ages 25-54: unchanged at 79.9% 
  • Average Hourly Earnings for Production and Nonsupervisory Personnel: rose $.08 from  $23.10 to $23.18, up +3.5% YoY.  (Note: you may be reading different information about wages elsewhere. They are citing average wages for all private workers. I use wages for nonsupervisory personnel, to come closer to the situation for ordinary workers.) 

Is a recession close?

The more leading numbers in the report tell us about where the economy is likely to be a few months from now. These were mixed.

  • the average manufacturing workweek fell -0.1 hours from 40.8 to 40.7 hours. This is one of the 10 components of the LEI.
  • Manufacturing jobs rose +4,000. YoY manufacturing is up 242,000.
  • construction jobs declined -31,000. YoY construction jobs are up 373,000.  
  • temporary jobs rose +5800. YoY these are up +67,000.
  • the number of people unemployed for 5 weeks or less fell by -131,000 from 2,325,000 to 2,194,000.  The post-recession low was set nine months ago at 2,034,000.

Holding Trump accountable for manufacturing and mining jobs

 Trump specifically campaigned on bringing back manufacturing and mining jobs.  Is he keeping this promise?  

  • Manufacturing jobs rose an average of +12,000/month in the past year vs. the last seven years of Obama's presidency in which an average of +10,300 manufacturing jobs were added each month.   
  • Coal mining jobs increased by 100 for an average of +160/month vs. the last seven years of Obama's presidency in which an average of -300 jobs were lost each month
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