March 10, 2017

February 2017 Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate: 4.7 percent

Jobs Created: 235,000

Employment and Unemployment

  1. The Department of Labor reported an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent for February, down 0.1 percent from last month.

  2. Today’s jobs report shows an increase of 235,000 nonfarm jobs in February, higher than analysts’ prediction of job growth of 200,000. Employment for December was revised down from 157,000 to 155,000 jobs created; and January was revised up from 227,000 to 238,000.  

  3. Unemployment in February among those ages 16-19 was 15.0 percent, unchanged from last month. For people of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, the unemployment rate was 5.6 percent, down 0.3 percentage point from January. For African-Americans, the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, up 0.4 percentage point from the prior month.

  4. The number of long-term unemployed, those unemployed for 27 weeks or more, was 1.8 million, down from 1.9 million last month. They account for 23.8 percent of the unemployed, down from 24.4 percent in the prior month.

  5. The “real” unemployment or U-6 rate is 9.2 percent, down 0.2 percent from last month. This is the total percentage of unemployed and underemployed workers. The rate averaged 8.3 percent in the two years before the recession. 

  6. The “real” number of unemployed Americans is 14.9 million. These are people who are unemployed (7.5 million), want work but have stopped searching for a job (1.7 million), or are working part time because they cannot find full-time employment (5.7 million).  

  7. In February, employment grew by 58,000 in construction; 37,000 in professional and business services; 28,000 in manufacturing; 27,000 in health care; and 8,000 in mining. Employment in retail trade fell by 26,000; and state government lost 3,000 jobs last month. 

  8. In a March 1 speech, Fed Chair Janet Yellen stated that the “economy has essentially met the employment portion of our mandate and inflation is moving closer to our 2 percent objective … unless unanticipated developments adversely affect the economic outlook, the process of scaling back accommodation likely will not be as slow as it was during the past couple of years.”

  9. The Wall Street Journal noted that today’s jobs report provides “evidence of continued health in the U.S. labor market that would likely clear the way for the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates next week.” 

  10. The Federal Reserve next meets March 14-15.  

Labor Force Participation 

  1. The labor force participation rate is 63.0 percent, up 0.1 percentage point from last month and remaining near the lowest level in 38 years

  2. Despite the recent increase in the labor force participation rate, many workers remain on the sidelines. Since October 2013, the participation rate has largely been stuck in a narrow range of 62.5 to 63 percent. Prior to the recession, the rate was 66 percent. 

  3. The share of American adults with jobs in February was 60.0 percent, up 0.1 percentage point from last month. This is nearly 4 percentage points below its pre-recession peak.  


  1. In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 6 cents to $26.09, following a 5 cent increase in January. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.8 percent. 

Issue Tag: Labor