February Sees 275,000 U.S. Job Additions, Yet Unemployment Climbs to 3.9%

James Hyerczyk
Updated: Mar 8, 2024, 14:52 GMT+00:00

Key Points:

  • 275,000 Non-Farm Jobs Added, Surpassing Expected 198,000
  • Unemployment Rate Rises to 3.9%, Despite Labor Market Gains
  • Hourly Earnings Increase by 5 Cents, Reflecting Moderate Growth
Non Farm payrolls

Overview of February 2024 Labor Market

In February 2024, the U.S. labor market demonstrated significant strength, with nonfarm payroll employment increasing by 275,000. This figure notably exceeded the projected growth of 198,000, defying expectations of a slowing economy. Despite these gains, the unemployment rate experienced a slight rise to 3.9%.

While job creation was robust, the jobless rate increased from 3.6% a year earlier to 3.9%. This rise occurred even though the labor force participation rate remained constant at 62.5%. Among different groups, unemployment rates for adult women and teenagers increased slightly, while the rates for adult men, Whites, Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics showed minimal or no change.

Sector-Wise Employment Gains

Significant job growth was observed in various sectors:

  • Health Care: Leading the growth with 67,000 new jobs.
  • Government: Added 52,000 jobs, aligning with the 12-month average.
  • Food Services and Drinking Places: Increased by 42,000 jobs.
  • Social Assistance: Grew by 24,000 jobs.
  • Transportation and Warehousing: Saw an increase of 20,000 jobs.

Average Hourly Earnings and Workweek

Average hourly earnings for all private nonfarm employees edged up by 5 cents to $34.57. This marginal increase indicates a slight deceleration from the previous year. The average workweek for all employees also saw a slight uptick, moving to 34.3 hours.

The labor market’s resilience is evident in the robust job additions. However, challenges persist, as evidenced by the slight rise in the unemployment rate and the stable yet not increasing labor force participation rate. The slight increase in part-time workers seeking full-time roles, remaining at 4.4 million, underscores these ongoing challenges.

Economic Implications

February’s labor market performance, with its combination of strong job growth, a mild increase in unemployment, and moderated wage growth, paints a complex picture. It reflects an economy that is resilient yet facing nuanced challenges, with implications for traders and policymakers in interpreting the underlying trends and potential shifts in the labor market.

About the Author

James is a Florida-based technical analyst, market researcher, educator and trader with 35+ years of experience. He is an expert in the area of patterns, price and time analysis as it applies to futures, Forex, and stocks.

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