Report Highlights Mixed News on Employment

By Toni Vranjes

March 4, 2016

Last month, hiring gained steam in the U.S., but the news in some other areas wasn’t as bright.

Payrolls rose by 242,000 in February, with growth in health care, retail trade, and various other industries. Unemployment remained at 4.9 percent, the Labor Department said in the new jobs report.

The government also revised employment growth upward for December and January — showing a total of 30,000 more jobs than earlier reported.┬áIn other positive signs, the labor force grew by 555,000, and the labor-force participation rate increased from 62.7 percent to 62.9 percent.

On the other hand, average hourly earnings fell by 3 cents, and the average workweek declined by 0.2 hour.

“The good news in February was really good. Payroll employment growth returned to its 200,000 to 250,000 range of the past two years,” wrote IHS Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh in an analysis.

Behravesh noted that labor force participation was the highest since January 2015.

But, he added: “Anyone looking for weakness found it in the declines in hours worked and average hourly earnings. While some of this may be monthly ‘noise’, both measures have been pretty flat in the past year.”

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