US Nonfarm Payroll Increases by 311,000 in February; Unemployment Inches Higher to 3.6%

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today (3-10-23) that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 311,000 in February, compared with an average monthly gain of 343,000 over the prior 6 months.

Job growth in February was once again widespread, with notable growth occurring in the following:

  • Leisure and hospitality added 105,000 new jobs, with food service and drinking places gaining 70,000 positions.
  • The retail trade sector increased by 50,000 jobs, reflecting a gain in general merchandise of 39,000 jobs.
  • Government employment rose by 46,000, about the same as the average monthly gain of 44,000 over the prior 6-month period. Employment in local government increased by 37,000.
  • Professional and business service increased by 45,000, led by a gain of 12,000 in professional, scientific, and technical services.
  • Health care added 44,000 new jobs, led by gains in hospitals (19,000) and nursing and residential care facilities, (14,000).
  • Construction employment increased by 24,000, in line with the average monthly growth of 20,000 over the prior 6 months.
  • Social assistance added 19,000, similar to the average monthly gain of 22,000 over the prior 6 months.

Employment was little changed in February in other major industries, including mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; manufacturing; wholesale trade; financial activities; and other services.

The unemployment rate increased to 3.6% in February but still continues to hold in a narrow range that was established early in 2022. The number of unemployed persons rose to 5.9 million, up from 5.7 million in January.

The BLS notes that monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimate and from recalculations of seasonal factors. As a result, the change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised down by 21,000 to 239,000. The change in January was revised down by 13,000 to 504,000. With these revisions, employment gains in December and January combined were 34,000 lower than previously reported.

FEA compiles the Wood Markets News from various 3rd party sources to provide readers with the latest news impacting forest product markets. Opinions or views expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent those of FEA.