Jobs Report: Unemployment Falls Once Again

Posted by Olivia Grady on Friday, March 15th, 2019 at 3:08 pm - Permalink

On March 8, 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its Employment Situation report for February 2019.

After strong numbers for the past three months, February’s numbers were lower than expected with 20,000 new jobs added.

However, the job market remains very strong. Employment was stronger this month in professional and business services, health care and wholesale trade. In addition, the number of jobs added in December and January were revised up, and in 2018, on average, 223,000 jobs were created per month. The number of employed Americans also grew by 255,000 in February to set a new record of 156,949,000 employed Americans.

Further, BLS reported that the unemployment rate fell to 3.8%, while the number of unemployed Americans decreased by 300,000 to 6.2 million. The unemployment rates for adult men (3.5%), Whites (3.3%) and Hispanics (4.3%) also fell. For Hispanic Americans, this unemployment rate set a new record low. 

Average hourly earnings also increased. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 3.4%, the highest mark since April 2009, benefiting primarily lower-income Americans. In fact, the American Enterprise Institute just reviewed a new Goldman Sachs report that found that lower-wage workers are experiencing more wage growth than higher earners.

Finally, the labor force participation rate remained the same at 63.2%. 

In his statement on the jobs report, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta not only reviewed the jobs numbers but also pointed out the need to train workers for the future:

"America's workforce continues to grow, with 20,000 new jobs created in February and upward revisions of 12,000 jobs from prior months.  The last three months saw an average job gain of 186,000 jobs. This month's jobs report highlights the importance of focusing on workforce investment that builds the skills needed to fill the record amount of open jobs."

Small business shared a similar message as the Secretary’s, but an even stronger report for February. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reported in its February job report that small business job creation broke a 45-year record. Small businesses added .52 workers per firm. A concern of many small businesses, however, is the lack of qualified applicants for their open job positions.

As NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan explained:

“Small businesses are creating new jobs at an all-time high, which has massive implications for the economy since two of every three new jobs is created by a small business. Owners are doing everything they can to hold onto the employees they have, while trying to produce effectively without a full staff.”

Congratulations to President Donald Trump, Secretary Alex Acosta, and the Trump Administration on another month of lower unemployment!