February Job Growth Trails Two Previous Months

March 9, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Non-farm payroll employment increased by 97,000 to 137.4 million in February and the unemployment rate remained fairly stagnant for the month, according to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The gain in February, the smallest in more than two years, fell short of analysts’ predictions, according to Reuters. Analysts polled by Reuters were expecting the economy to add 100,000 jobs outside of the farming sector in February.

The February employment gain in is less than the increase of 226,000 in December (See December Job Growth Surpasses Economists’ Forecasts ) and 146,000 in January (See January Job Gains Below Predictions ).

The BLS report showed job gains in several of the service industries, including professional and business services, health care and food services, adding 29,000, 33,000, and 21,000, respectively.

The 29,000 increase in professional and business services jobs brings the number of total jobs added over the past 12 months to 460,000. Job gains occurred in services to buildings and dwellings (11,000) and temporary help services saw little change over the month and over the year.

Employment in the information industry was up by 13,000 in February. Within financial activities, depository credit intermediation added 4,000 jobs, and over the month, employment was essentially unchanged in both wholesale and retail trade.The BLS figures show that air transportation lost 7,000 jobs.
Manufacturing employment continued to trend down over the month, losing 14,000 jobs.  Job losses occurred in wood products (-4,000), semiconductors and electronic components(-3,000), and textile mills (-3,000).  Machinery added 5,000 jobs in February.