Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 242,000 in February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the unemployment rate remained steady at 4.9 percent.

Employment gains occurred in health care and social assistance, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and private educational services. Job losses continued in mining.


Household survey data

In February, the unemployment rate held at 4.9 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 7.8 million, was unchanged. During the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 0.6 percent and 831,000, respectively, according to the bureau.

Among the major worker groups, the February unemployment rates for all demographics remained fairly steady. Unemployment rate by demographic was:

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  • Adult men – 4.5 percent
  • Adult women – 4.5 percent
  • Teenagers – 15.6 percent
  • Whites – 4.3 percent
  • Blacks – 8.8 percent
  • Asians – 3.8 percent
  • Hispanics – 5.4 percent


The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 2.2 million in February and has remained relativeley steady since the summer. In February, these individuals accounted for 27.7 percent of the unemployed.

The number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons (also referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was unchanged in February at 6 million and has beens steady since November.


Establishment Survey Data

Health care and social assistance added 57,000 jobs in February. Health care employment increased by 38,000 over the month, with job gains in ambulatory health care services (+24,000) and hospitals (+11,000). During the past 12 months, hospitals have added 181,000 jobs. In February, employment rose by 19,000 in social assistance, mostly in individual and family services (+14,000).

Retail trade continued to add jobs in February (+55,000). Employment rose in food and beverage stores (+15,000) and other general merchandise stores (+13,000). Retail trade has added 339,000 jobs during the past 12 months.

Food services and drinking places added 40,000 jobs in February. Over the year, employment in the industry has grown by 359,000.

Employment in private educational services rose by 28,000 in February, after edging down by 20,000 in the prior month.

Construction employment continued to trend up in February (+19,000), with a gain of 14,000 in residential specialty trade contractors. Employment in construction was up by 253,000 during the past 12 months, with residential specialty trade contractors accounting for about half of the increase.

Employment in mining continued to decline in February (-19,000), with job losses in support activities for mining (-16,000) and coal mining (-2,000).

Since a recent peak in September 2014, mining has shed 171,000 jobs, with more than three-fourths of the loss in support activities for mining.

Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, professional and business services, and government, showed little change over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private non-farm payrolls declined by 0.2 to 34.4 hours in February. The manufacturing workweek was unchanged at 40.8 hours, and factory overtime was 3.3 hours for the third month in a row. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private non-farm payrolls edged down by .1 hour to 33.7 hours.

In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls declined by 3 cents to $25.35, following an increase of 12 cents in January. Average hourly earnings have risen by 2.2 percent over the year. In February, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees were unchanged at $21.32.