An icy landscape? Job rate freezes

Staff Reports
An icy landscape? Job rate freezes

    Just as the ground remains frozen under the winter ice, the jobs situation stagnated during the last month.

   The unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in February, a slight increase from the January rate of 6.6 percent, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Job growth has averaged 189,000 per month during the past year, but in February, nonfarm payroll employment rose by only 175,000.
    The snow that blanketed much of the country undoubtedly kept Americans indoors, but it probably didn’t directly affect hiring, according to the department. It could have impacted the workweek, however.
    The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 34.2 hours in February, according to the department. The manufacturing workweek was unchanged at 40.7 hours, and factory overtime edged down by 0.1 hour to 3.3 hours. For production workers, the manufacturing workweek has declined by 0.6 hour during the past 3 months.
    Otherwise, the number of unemployed persons -- 10.5 million -- changed little in February, the department reported.  Since December, the jobless rate has virtually stagnated, but during the past year, the rate has dropped one percentage point.
    Roughly 37 percent are considered "long-term unemployed," meaning that they have been out of work for 27 weeks or more, according to the department. Indeed, the number of long-term unemployed increased by 203,000 in February to 3.8 million.
    Looking at major worker groups, jobless rates changed little: 6.4 percent for adult men, 5.9 percent for adult women and 21.4 percent for teenagers. The rate was 5.8 percent for white Americans, 12 percent for African-Americans, 8.1 percent for Hispanics and 6 percent for Asians.
    Job gains occurred in professional and business services and in wholesale trade, while the information industry lost jobs.
    Professional and business services added 79,000 jobs in February, the department reported. Accounting and bookkeeping services added 16,000 jobs. An additional 24,000 temporary-help positions were added.
    Wholesale trade added 15,000 jobs, with nearly all of the increase –12,000 -- occurring in durable goods.
     The information industry lost 16,000 jobs in February. Most of the decline –14,000 jobs -- occurred in motion picture and sound recording. Employment in that industry can be volatile from month to month, the department noted. Employment in construction changed little, with an additional 15,000 jobs.

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