Payrolls are growing but wages aren’t, according to the latest monthly employment report released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS). The U.S. economy added 242,000 private, non-farm, seasonally adjusted payroll positions in February, beating analyst expectations and recovering from a slowdown in growth during January. This month’s positive report continues the longest run of monthly employment gains on record at 72 months, The New York Times reports, but the slight decline in wages from January stands to counter the notion that employees will benefit from a tightening market as businesses compete for fewer available workers and could, more generally, slow consumer spending. The national unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent.
"We had another encouraging report on job growth today," says Brad Hunter, chief economist and director of strategic consulting at Metrostudy, the data division of ARCHITECT's publisher Hanley Wood. "This was well higher than expectations of 190,000 jobs, and with the upward revisions to prior months, this was a strong report. This forecast is supportive of our forecast for improved home construction activity this year."
The previously reported payroll gains of 151,000 for January were revised up to 172,000. December’s addition of 262,000 was changed to 271,000.
Construction continued its upward trend in February, adding 19,000 jobs. Overall, the sector has added 253,000 payroll positions in the last 12 months, with residential specialty trade contractors accounting for roughly half of that growth. Manufacturing lost 16,000 jobs in February while the architectural and engineering services sub-sector continued its steady, upward-revised growth over the past three months, adding 5,500 jobs in February.
Residential construction hiring slowed down in February, while commercial construction stayed flat. Hiring for specialty trade contractors is continuing to boom, while their commercial counterparts saw losses for the second month in a row.
Charts data source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Note: This article previously misreported the number of architectural and engineering services jobs added. It is 5,500. We regret the error.