February was another impressive month for nonfarm payroll employment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The February 2015 unemployment report showed an overall monthly gain of 295,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate dropped down to 5.5 percent. This number is higher than the average of 266,000 monthly gains over the last 12 months, and slightly higher than the 240,000 that economists predicted.
Taking into account the revisions to prior months, employment gains in December and January were 18,000 fewer than previously reported. The December number remained at +329,000 while the January number was reduced from +257,000 to +239,000.
February’s leading industries include food services and drinking places, professional and business services, construction, healthcare and transportation and warehousing. Employment in the food services and drinking places had the most significant gain (+58,700 and 449,000 year-over year). The professional and business services sector had another positive month (+51,000, and 660,000 year-over-year), including the administrative and support services sub-sector (+13,900), while the temporary help services sector showed a decline (-7,800).
Construction added 29,000 jobs in February, with almost all of the growth in specialty trade contractors (27,200). Healthcare saw an increase of 23,800 jobs, while social assistance added 9,000 jobs. Transportation and warehousing added 18,500, with most of the growth in couriers and messengers (12,300).
The number of unemployed persons (8.7 million) declined in February. Over the year, the unemployment rate and number of unemployed persons have declined by 1.2 percentage point and 1.7 million, respectively.
The average hourly earnings in February increased by 3 cents to $24.78. This follows a 12-cent increase in January, the biggest monthly increase since November of 2008. The year-over-year hourly wage growth rate is now 2 percent. The length of an average workweek remained steady at 34.6 hours.