U.S. businesses increased jobs by 236,000 in February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) February jobs report, bringing unemployment down to 7.7 percent (from 7.9% in January)[i]. This is a full percentage point improvement year-over-year, when unemployment in February 2012 held at a high of 8.7 percent. [i] While the unemployment rate edged down, the number of unemployed persons remains at 12.0 million, according to the BLS. [i]
The majority of job gains were made in professional and business services (adding 77,000 jobs), construction (adding 44,000 jobs), and health care, which added 32,000 jobs in February. Other growth sectors showing gains included retail trade which +23,000 jobs, and leisure and hospitality, adding 24,000 new jobs in February. Gains were also made in accounting and bookkeeping, information systems and technical consulting. [ii]
As we’ve been reporting in our Unemployment Blog Series, there remains a disparity in unemployment among work groups. While white workers saw their unemployment rate dip slightly to 6.8 percent in February (from 7 percent in January, and down from 7.9 percent a year ago), African Americans saw no improvement in unemployment, holding steady at 13.8 percent. This is a slight improvement year-over-year when unemployment was at 14.1 percent for this sector of the labor force. [iii].
Hispanics also saw a higher rate of unemployment than white workers (at 9.6 percent); however, have shown a marked improvement to unemployment year-over year; unemployment was 11.4 percent in February 2012). [iiii]
And the unemployment rate for Veterans, specifically Gulf-war Era II spiked to 11.6 in February, from 7.4 percent in January. Veterans ending their deployment could impact this spike. [iv]. This month we’ll explore the impact of unemployment on Veterans in more detail. Stay tuned.
[i] Table A-1. Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age
[iii] Table A-2. Employment status of the civilian population by race, sex, and age
[iiii] Table A-3. Employment status of the Hispanic or Latino population by sex and age