Strong Jobs Report Today Beats Most Estimates

The U.S. created 227,000 new jobs in February, exceeding what economists predicted, and adding to the optimism that the economy is on the mend. The unemployment, as expected, held steady at 8.3 percent.

Surveys conducted before the numbers were released this morning by the U.S. Department of Labor showed economists expected somewhere between about 210,000 and 220,000 new jobs last month. Few individual economists expected as strong a showing as this for a month of 29 days.

It was the third consecutive month in which jobs grew by more than 200,000. In addition to the February numbers, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics adjusted up the numbers for January and December by 61,000.

“The labor market has found its legs in the last few months,” said Julia Coronado, chief economist for North America at BNP Paribas in New York. She told MarketWatch, “it looks like there’s enough of a broad base that the momentum can be sustained.”

The news moved stock futures up as Wall Street prepared for what analysts expect will be an up day.

With the improving jobs picture over the last few months, more people are looking for work, one reason the unemployment rate was unchanged. Its also helps explain why the total number of unemployed ticked up slightly during the month. Overall, there were 12.8 million workers officially counted as unemployed. Another almost 11 million are working part time because they can’t find other jobs or are seeking work, but not included in the official count.

However, the Monster Economic Index, a measure of the number of jobs being advertised online, jumped by 10 points. And earlier this week, The Conference Board’s own job counts showed an increase of almost 40,000 online job ads.

The job growth, according to the Labor Department report, is nearly across the board. The private sector created 233,000 jobs (which was offset by 6,000 job losses in government). Only in construction, down 13,000 jobs, and retail, down 7,400, were there significant private sector losses.

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Some of the biggest gains came in manufacturing, leisure, professional services and healthcare, which is the one sector that consistently has grown throughout the recession. Healthcare industry employers created 61,100 new jobs last month.

That was matched by the continued hiring of temporary and other workers in the employment services sector. Here, employers hesitant about adding permanent workers have been hiring ever-more temps to handle growing workloads. In February, 45,200 new temporaries were added to payrolls.

Leisure and hospitality jobs grew by 44,000, most of that in the restaurant industry. Manufacturing added 31,000 new positions, with slightly more than a third of the workers hired for metal fabrication jobs.

Among the biggest losers were retail jobs in department stores. Some 25,000 jobs were cut there, not unexpectedly however, as stores completed inventory. That number was counterbalanced by a nearly identical growth in retail jobs in January.

Other signs of strength were an increase in the manufacturing workweek by .1 hour to 41 hours and an increase of 3 cents per hour in the average hourly wage. It now stands at $23.31.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


1 Comment on “Strong Jobs Report Today Beats Most Estimates

  1. This is good news. At this rate, how long will it be until we are down to 7.0% or lower for as i often say: “The Great Recession for Unemployment will end when there are three straight months of 7.0% or lower unemployment.

    Let’s see what the experts say:
    In the below info, the Congressional Budget Office says:
    unemployment doesn’t decline below 7% until 2015 Q4. Let’s say they’re wildly pessimistic (based on their 9/2011 forecast for now- they were about 1% too pessimistic), and that it happens three years earlier- the “end” is still 6 months away….

    The Feds say: 6.7-7.6% in 2014, and they were pretty good for their 6/2011 forecast of now…


    Recent Forecasts

    Wells Fargo Securities Economic Forecast (latest monthly forecast, Feb 2012; latest forecast, Feb 17-latest weekly analysis): economic growth = 1.5% in 2012Q1; 1.9% in 2012 and 2.1% in 2013; core CPI inflation = 2% in 2012 and 1.8% in 2013; CPI inflation = 2.1% in 2012 and 2013; unemployment rate dips to 8.2% in 2012Q2 before rising to 8.4% by end of 2012 and 8.1% by the end of 2013; economy adds about 1.8 million jobs per year in 2012 and 1.6 million in 2013

    Survey of Professional Forecasters (latest survey Feb 2012): economic growth=2.2% in 2012Q1, 2.3% in 2012Q2; 2.3% in 2012, 2.7% in 2013, 3% in 2014; core inflation (PCE)=1.6% in 2012 and 1.8% in 2013 (overall PCE inflation=1.9% in 2012, 2% in 2013); unemployment rate=8.1% in 2012Q4; average unemployment rate = 7.9% in 2013, 7.4% in 2014

    OMB (Feb 2012 – see pdf page11-13): economic growth = 2.7% in 2012, 3% in 2013 and 3.6% in 2014; unemployment (Q4) = 8.8% in 2012, 8.6% in 2013, 7.8% in 2014; inflation = 2.2% in 2012, 1.9% in 2013, 2% in 2014; natural rate of unemployment = 5.4%, growth in potential GDP = 2.5%; see pdf page 13 for comparison with other forecasts

    Economic forecasting survey, Feb 2012 (WSJ): economic growth = 2.3% in 2012Q1, 2.5% in 2012, 2.7% in 2013, 3.1% in 2014; unemployment = 8% at end of 2012, 7.4% at end of 2013, 6.8% at end of 2014; inflation = 2.2% in 2012, 2.4% in 2013 and 2.6% in 2014; Fed begins raising interest rates in second half of 2013; 16% chance of recession in US in 2012, 87% say the Eurozone is in recession while 9% say one is imminent; 66% think it will last less than one year while 30% think it will last more than a year; 41% chance of a country leaving the eurozone in the next year

    CBO (January 31, summary): economic growth = 2% in 2012, 1.1% in 2013 (assuming the expiration of tax cuts); unemployment close to 8.9% at end of 2012, rising to 9.2% by end of 2013 (assuming expiration of tax cuts); unemployment doesn’t decline below 7% until 2015Q4; core PCE inflation = 1.4% in 2012 and 1.3% in 2013; growth in potential GDP under 2% for 2012 and 2013, 2.1% & 2.3% for 2014 & 2015, before settling back to about 2.5% afterwards; natural rate of unemployment = 5.5% (don’t reach that rate until 2018)

    Fed Forecast as of January 2012: economic growth = 2.2-2.7% in 2012, 2.8%-3.2% in 2013, 3.3-4% in 2014; long-run economic growth = 2.3-2.6% (note: these are from 4th quarter to 4th quarter); unemployment rate = 8.2-8.5% in 2012, 7.4-8.1% in 2013, 6.7-7.6% in 2014 (estimates are for 4th quarter of the respective year); natural rate of unemployment = 5.2 to 6%; inflation as measured by core PCE index of 1.4 to 1.8% in 2012, 1.5-2% in 2013 and 1.6 to 2% in 2014; Fed adopts a policy of inflation targeting with a long-run goal of 2% overall inflation as measured by the PCE index

    IMF (January): US economic growth = 1.8% in 2012, 2.2% in 2013

    NABE January survey (Jan 23-CNBC): economic growth = 2.4% in 2012

    Quarterly economic survey (USA Today – Jan 22, 2012): economic growth = 2.2% in first half of 2012; unemployment rate = 8.4% by end of 2012

    World Bank Global Economic Forecast (Jan 17): US economic growth = 2.2% in 2012, 2.4% in 2013

    Livingston Survey (latest survey – Dec 2011): economic growth = 2.1% in first half of 2012 and 2.5% in second half of 2012; unemployment rate = 8.9% in June 2012 and 8.7% in Dec 2012; inflation (CPI) = 2.2% for 2012 and 2.3% for 2013; long-term economic growth = 2.6%, inflation averages 2.5% over the next decade

    OECD Economic Outlook (Nov 2011): economic growth = 2% in 2012, 2.5% in 2013; inflation = 1.9% in 2012, 1.4% in 2013; unemployment rate = 8.9% by end of 2012, 8.4% by end of 2013; budget deficit = 9.3% of GDP in 2012, 8.3% of GDP in 2013

    Univ. of Michigan Economic Forecast (executive summary – Nov 17, 2011): economic growth = 2.5% in 2012 and 2.5% in 2013; core inflation (CPI) = 1.7% in 2012 (overall inflation = 2.2%) and 1.6% in 2013; unemployment rate rises to 9.2% by early 2012, averaging 8.9% for all of 2012 before declining to 8.5% by end of 2013

    Current Economic Data
    Economy at a Glance (BLS): Orlando Metropolitan Area; Florida
    last updated: 03/02/2012

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