The U.S. economy gained 20,000 jobs in February, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.8%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is a dramatically lower level of job growth than we have seen in recent years and is good reason for the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee to express caution in considering any interest rate hikes.
In response to the February job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs said:
While wages were up 3.4% over last February, wage increases were not widespread. In leisure and hospitality they were up 4.6%, but in manufacturing they were only up 2.6%. In retail trade they were up 5.0%, but in transportation and warehousing they were only up 2.4%. Retail and leisure and hospitality have large shares of minimum wage workers who got boosts from automatic inflation adjustments because of state laws protecting the real wages of minimum wage workers.
He also tweeted:
#JobsReport in looking over today's @BLS_gov figures it is important to keep in mind three sector where women are disproportionate share of the work force @CLUWNational @HeidiatIWPR @IWPResearch @APRI_National @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/fFL0f8L6zR— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) March 8, 2019
#JobsReport both the "official" widely reported U-3 measure of unemployment and the broadest measure, including part-time workers who want full-time work and the marginally attached workers frustrated by poor search results, declined @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/1415yD9PLz— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) March 8, 2019
#JobsReport Ignore the outlier of job growth in services to buildings as a rebound from dropping in January from the government shutdown and bad weather and contract delays caused by the shutdown in construction and this report shows little change for high and low wage industries pic.twitter.com/1HrGEIAFo0— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) March 8, 2019
#JobReport Now would be the time for the @federalreserve to worry, three straight months of increases in the Black unemployment rate from three straight increases in unemployed workers. They better listen to @neelkashkari more often. @rolandsmartin @LVBurke @AFLCIO @CBTU72 pic.twitter.com/QHKInrhK1J— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) March 8, 2019
#JobsReport since reaching a low of 6.0% in November, the Black unemployment rate has climbed three straight months on a climb in the number of unemployed Black workers. Given the relationship of the Black community to predatory sub-prime auto loans this is not good. @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/wwARya7JYx— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) March 8, 2019
Last month's biggest job gains were in professional and business services (42,000), health care (21,000), wholesale trade (11,000) and manufacturing (4,000). Construction employment saw losses in February (-31,000). Employment in other major industries, including leisure and hospitality, mining, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities and government, showed little or no change over the month.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates rose for teenagers (13.4%). The jobless rate declined for Hispanics (4.3%). The jobless rate for blacks (7.0%), adult men (3.5%), adult women (3.4%), whites (3.3%) and Asians (3.1%) showed little change in February.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) rose in February and accounted for 20.4% of the unemployed.