The February jobs report was surprisingly strong, at least on the toplines, with 175,000 total jobs and 162,000 private-sector jobs added on a seasonally-adjusted basis, while unemployment ticked up by 0.1 percentage points to 6.7% as more people entered/re-entered the workforce than entered the larger civilian population. The revisions to the December and January jobs numbers were also positive, to the tune of a net 25,000 additional jobs added.
The workforce grew by 264,000 on a seasonally-adjusted basis, keeping the Labor Force Participation Rate at 63.0%, though a larger 63.0% than last month due to rounding. The number of employed grew by only 42,000, leaving the employment-population ratio at 58.8%, though a lower 58.8% than last month due to rounding.
Reuters couldn’t resist blaming the weather for a shrinkage of average hours worked to 33.3 hours for non-supervisory and production employees, and 34.2 hours for all employees:
U.S. job growth rose more than expected in February, which could ease fears of an abrupt slowdown in economic growth and keep the Federal Reserve on track in reducing its monetary stimulus.
Employers added 175,000 jobs to their payrolls last month after creating 129,000 new positions in December, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate, however, rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected nonfarm payrolls to rise 149,000 and the unemployment rate to hold steady at 6.6 percent.
Unseasonably cold and snowy winter weather has disrupted economic activity. Snow and ice covered densely populated areas during the week employers were surveyed for February payrolls.
The length of the average work week in February fell to its lowest level since January 2011.
The household survey contradicts the establishment survey on the issue of part-timers. The number of part-time workers, those who work fewer than 35 hours per week, on a non-adjusted basis, dropped by 227,000 over the last year to 27,810,000, while the number of full-time workers increased by 2,132,000 over the last year to 116,323,000. Meanwhile, the number of multiple part-time job-holders decreased by 70,000 over the last year to 1,973,000.
Despite the better-than-expected topline numbers, it is not rosy compared to history. On a non-adjusted basis, the 753,000 total jobs and 300,000 private-sector jobs added are the weakest February performances since 2010, and is below the 2000-2013 average.