While the stock market may be tentative, February's jobs report proved the United States economy is the healthiest it has been in years. Around 242,000 new jobs were created in February, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised December and January's total job growth by adding 30,000, according to the New York Times.
Around 2011 the nation's unemployment rate stood stagnant at about 9 percent. Since then, it has dropped about 1 percent per year.
The economy in a nutshell
CNN Money reported that analysts predicted around 190,000 new jobs would be created in February - 50,000 less than the resulting figure. The economy remains tough to predict on a month-to-month basis, but on a number of occasions recently job growth has outpaced predictions.
"February's job growth beat projections by nearly 50,000."
Despite the larger-than-anticipated number of jobs created, the unemployment rate remained surprisingly stagnant. This may partially be due to the "natural" unemployment rate – experts generally assume that five percent of the population will be unemployed at any given point without extenuating circumstances. While jobs increased, labor force participation also increased, resulting in an immobile unemployment rate.
"We are seeing job growth across a range of industries, but we're also seeing a polarization in the labor market," said Tara Sinclair, chief economist for the job site Indeed.
Sinclair is referring to the explosion of job growth the health and services sector is experiencing in the midst of a down year for manufacturing, transportation, energy and logging. While there may not be much parity lately, it's still a good sign that the American economy is healthy amid concerns of depreciated crude oil and China's stock market, which has closed multiple times in 2016 already due to massive sell-offs.
Not yet alarming, but worth nothing, is that wages grew just 2.2 percent in February. This statistic averaged 2.5 percent during 2016, and The Federal Reserve would like to see wage growth of 3.5 percent, according to CNN Money.
Job growth remains steady
Though the mining industry continues its sharp decline in the aftermath of the investment tax credit extension, the BLS reported health care and social assistance, retail trade, food services and drinking places and private educational services expanded their workforce numbers.
- Health care and social assistance saw job growth across the board. Nearly 24,000 found jobs in ambulatory health care services, while 11,000 were hired in hospitals and 19,000 joined social assistance.
- Retail continued its streaky employment gains, hiring 55,000 in February. The phenomenon that was thought to be attributed to shopping season has continued far past Christmas, and it looks as though brick-and-mortar is making a comeback as omnichannel shopping strategies become more prevalent throughout the industry. Over the past year, almost 340,000 have found employment in this market.
- Food services and drinking places hired 40,000 last month, bringing up its total to 359,000 in the last 12 months.
- Private educational services created 28,000 jobs in February, up slightly from 20,000 in January.
- Residential construction has accounted for about half of the 253,000 jobs added in the last 12 months, and the industry hired 19,000 in February alone.
- Since 2014, the mining industry has declined by 171,000 jobs, including shedding 19,000 in February.
Blue collar jobs and specialized services continue to grow while white collar industries like financial and business professionals stagnate. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues well into 2016, or if office jobs once again take control of job growth.
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