The U.S. unemployment rate held steady at 3.5% in February as the economy added 273,000 jobs, according to figures released Friday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to the numbers, notable job gains occurred in health care and social assistance, food services and drinking establishments, government, construction, professional and technical services, and financial activities.
The numbers come from two surveys. The household survey measures unemployment by demographic characteristics. The establishment survey of workplaces measures employment, hours and earnings by industry. The household survey was performed before fears of the new coronavirus hit the economy and caused the stock market to plummet.
Local jobs numbers for February are not yet available. But in December, the Springfield unemployment rate was higher than the national average at 4.2%. That rate was down from 4.4% a month earlier and 4.8% a year earlier. The statewide average in December was 2.4%
Nationally, the number of long-term unemployed people -- those jobless for 27 weeks or more -- stood at 1.1 million in February and accounted for 19.2 percent of the unemployed. There was little change from January.
The labor force participation rate remained at 63.4% in February.
Average hourly earnings for all employees on private increased by 9 cents to $28.52. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3%.
Job gains and losses by sector across the country were:
Health care and social assistance increased by 57,000 in February. Health care added 32,000 jobs, with gains in offices of physicians (+10,000), home health care services (+10,000), and hospitals (+8,000). Employment in social assistance increased by 25,000, with a majority of the gain in individual and family services (+18,000). Over the past 12 months, employment increased by 368,000 in health care and by 191,000 in social assistance.
Food services and drinking places added 53,000 jobs in February. Employment in the industry has increased by 252,000 over the past 7 months, following a lull in job growth earlier in 2019.
Government employment increased by 45,000, led by a gain in state government education (+16,000). Federal employment increased by 8,000, reflecting the hiring of 7,000 temporary workers for the 2020 Census.
Construction added 42,000 jobs in February, following a similar gain in January (+49,000). In 2019, job gains averaged 13,000 per month. In February, employment gains occurred in specialty trade contractors (+26,000) and residential building (+10,000).
Professional and technical services increased by 32,000. Job growth occurred in architectural and engineering services (+10,000) and in scientific research and development services (+5,000). Employment continued to trend up in computer systems design and related services (+8,000). Over the past 12 months, professional and technical services has added 285,000 jobs.
Financial activities increased by 26,000 in February, with gains in real estate (+8,000) and in credit intermediation and related activities (+6,000). Over the past 12 months, financial activities has added 160,000 jobs.
Employment in other major industries, including mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, and information, changed little over the month.
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