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February Jobs Report: A Blowout

New Deal Democrat profile picture
New Deal Democrat


  • The February jobs report was a very strong one.
  • Manufacturing and mining jobs in December were revised upward by 37,000. For January, the number was revised upward by 48,000, for a net change of 85,000.
  • Only a few items were negative, including a slight increase in the underemployment rate, involuntary part-time employment, and those not in the labor force who want a job now.


  • +273,000 jobs added.
  • U3 unemployment rate declined -0.1% to 3.5%.
  • U6 underemployment rate rose 0.1% to 7.0%.

Leading employment indicators of a slowdown or recession

I am highlighting these because many leading indicators overall have strongly suggested that an employment slowdown is here. The following more leading numbers in the report tell us about where the economy is likely to be a few months from now. These were mixed to slightly negative:

  • The average manufacturing workweek rose 0.2 hours to 40.6 hours. This is one of the 10 components of the LEI and will be a strong positive.
  • Manufacturing jobs rose by 15,000. Manufacturing has gained only 31,000 jobs in the past 12 months.
  • Construction jobs rose by 42,000. In the past 12 months, construction jobs are up 223,000, a strong acceleration even from 2018 levels. Residential construction jobs, which are even more leading, rose by 9400.
  • Temporary jobs fell by -3300.
  • The number of people unemployed for 5 weeks or less declined by -46000 from 2,059,000 to 2,013,000. This is a new expansion low.

Wages and participation rates

Here are the headlines on wages and the broader measures of underemployment:

  • Not in labor force, but want a job now: Rose by 58,000 to 4.962 million.
  • Part time for economic reasons: Rose by 136,000 to 4.318 million.
  • Employment/population ratio ages 25-54: Fell -0.1% to 80.5%.
  • Average Hourly Earnings for Production and Nonsupervisory Personnel: Rose $.08 to $23.96, and is up +3.3% YoY. This is a deceleration from last fall. (Note: You may be reading different information about wages elsewhere. They are citing average wages for all private workers. I use wages for nonsupervisory personnel, to come closer to the situation for ordinary workers.)

Holding Trump accountable on manufacturing and mining jobs

Trump specifically campaigned on bringing

This article was written by

New Deal Democrat profile picture
New Deal democrat As a professional who started an individual investor for almost 30 yeas ago, I quickly focused on economic cycles and the order in which they typically proceed. I have been writing about the economy for nearly 15 of those years, developing several alternate systems that include mid-cycle, long leading, short leading, coincident, lagging and long lagging indicators. I also focus particularly on their effects on average working and middle class Americans.

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Comments (9)

port4545 profile picture
As the author said, this was a reprint by SA. So a lag to the lagging indicator, YES, but still useful as gives us some context on how well the consumer and confidence may rebound as more certainty is known around COVID-19. I haven't seen many layoffs, at least not yet.
I'm sure the calamity in oil markets will have no effect on employment.
New Deal Democrat profile picture
I will post this once and only once.

This is reprint that SA chose to do from my own blog last Friday morning. I have continually reminded people that the coronavirus news will outrun the data.

Has anything by chance happened since last Friday morning?
Ben Gee profile picture
The US economy is strong.
When Obama was president Trump repeatedly claimed that upward revisions are fake and therefore are proof that the economy is tanking.
That means absolutely nothing. Lagging indictator and the market is forward looking. Shame on you author. You should know better.
So nobody should ever discuss jobs reports?
The Fed and politicians should. As for individual investors? Limited value.
Limited value still means some value. But thanks for admitting that your origin comment has no value.
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