February Jobs Report: 20,000 Jobs Added, Unemployment 3.8 Percent

February Jobs Report: 20,000 Jobs Added, Unemployment 3.8 Percent

MA added 11,400 jobs in January, while the unemployment rate remained at 3.1 percent for the fourth straight month, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced on Friday.

The unemployment rate is also expected to have dropped to 3.9%.

NATIONAL REPORT-The U.S. unemployment rate declined to 3.8%, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The health care sector, for example, gained 21,000 new jobs in February, while professional services added 42,000 new positions. Businesses stepped up their competition for workers and raised average hourly pay 3.4 percent from a year earlier, the largest gain in a decade. Temporary help services added 5,800 jobs.

Home sales fell last year and price gains are slowing after the average rate on a 30-year mortgage reached almost 5 percent last year.

February jobs report—What to know in markets Friday

In addition, data for December and January was revised to show 12,000 more jobs created than previously reported.

The job growth reported by the Labor Department on Friday was the weakest since September 2017, but it probably understated the health of the labor market as other details of the closely watched employment report were strong. Manufacturing added just 4,000, the fewest in a year and a half. That's a noticeable pickup from January's year-over-year gain of 3.1 percent. February's increase was dramatically smaller than January's revised gain of 311,000 and December's revised 227,000. Retail lost more than 6,000 jobs, and transportation and warehousing fell 3,000.

The public sector saw a 200-job gain in the month. All is not equal, of course, but this element will certainly put downward pressure on the unemployment rate. The rate for Hispanic and Latino Americans, though, dropped to a record low of 4.3 percent.

Also on a positive note, the proportion of part-time workers who'd prefer full-time jobs fell sharply. Others have said the five-week government shutdown - which delayed release of the jobs data - also played a role in the January spike, as idled government employees who found other jobs temporarily may have been double-counted.

While optimism among US manufacturers remains high, for example, almost 72 percent of respondents listed hiring as a tob concern. Wages have generally been rising fastest for the lowest-earning workers, a sign that it's getting harder to find people for all kinds of jobs, even in restaurants and retail, and that minimum wage increases in 19 states in January are having an impact.

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