The February United States jobs report came out this morning, and it is contains a glimmer of hope. This does not mean the recovery is strong yet. One month’s worth of data is nothing to base a trend on. There were 2 things of note that happened in February. Job gains occurred in the construction sector! And, job gains occurred in almost all sectors. These 2 things have not happened for a long time. The level of long-term unemployed persons fell below 6 million for the first time in many months, although this is still much too large a number.
This report beat our forecast on the jobs side soundly, our forecast of 39 thousand was trumped by an actual of 192 thousand. Our private sector forecast was off as our 64,000 number was dwarfed by the actual 222 thousand. Our government sector forecast of a loss of 25,000 was close to the actual 30,000 decline. As an aside, the ADP number released March 2, 217 thousand, was a good indicator of the BLS number this time.
Our unemployment rate forecast of 9.0 percent was closer to the actual of 8.9 percent. We did correctly project employment gains exceeding labor force growth.
What will be interesting now is to see if the February jobs strength can be maintained over the next few months. If so, the light at the end of the tunnel to a healthier job market will then be close.