The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 236,000 in February, and the unemployment rate edged down to 7.7 percent. Private payrolls, which don’t include jobs at government agencies, actually rose by 246,000 in February as public sector employment continues its slow erosion. In the prior 3 months, employment had risen by an average of 195,000 per month. Employment increased in professional and business services, construction, and health care.
In February, employment in construction increased by 48,000. Since September, construction employment has risen by 151,000. In February, job growth occurred in specialty trade contractors, with this gain about equally split between residential (+17,000) and nonresidential specialty trade contractors (+15,000). Nonresidential building construction also added jobs (+6,000).
The health care industry continued to add jobs in February (+32,000). Within health care, there was a job gain of 14,000 in ambulatory health care services, which includes doctors' offices and outpatient care centers. Employment also increased over the month in nursing and residential care facilities (+9,000) and hospitals (+9,000).
Employment in the information industry increased over the month (+20,000), lifted by a large job gain in the motion picture and sound recording industry.
Employment continued to trend up in retail trade in February (+24,000). Retail trade has added 252,000 jobs over the past 12 months. Bloomberg reports that Home Depot Inc. (HD) plans to add more than 80,000 temporary employees ahead of its busiest season, about 14 percent more than a year ago, as the rebound spurs spending on remodeling and landscaping. Lowe’s Cos. said in January it would take on 45,000 seasonal workers, 13 percent more than a year earlier, and add 9,000 permanent employees.
Employment also continued to trend up over the month in food services and drinking places and in wholesale trade. Employment in other major industries showed little change over the month.
In response to the positive jobs report, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose +53 to 14,382 as of 9:45 am CST. Gold also tumbled in response to the news, as the dollar rose. The dollar was nearing a four-year high against the Japanese yen.
In the housing market, new-home sales for all of 2012 hit 367,000, the highest level since 2009. The rate of new-home sales remains far below a bubble peak of almost 1.4 million in 2005, according to Marketwatch.com. Sales of existing homes while ticking down slightly in December, the total for 2012 hit the highest level in five years, according to data released recently by the National Association of Realtors.
Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement "While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides evidence that the recovery that began in mid-2009 is gaining traction."
Politically, this economic upturn solidifies President Barack Obama's strength in dealing with the United States Congress in passing economic legislation and passing a budget that can be passed in both houses. Politico reports that a "grand bargain" is back on the table, raising revenues coupled with a comprehensive agreement to overhaul the Internal Revenue Tax Code and entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare.
The economic upturn also continues to add to President Obama's legacy as one of the great Presidents in American history as he took a quickly depressing economy and turned it onto a path of growth.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns.