The headline jobs number in the February employment report was above expectations, however employment for the previous two months was revised down by 34,000, combined. The participation rate increased, and the unemployment rate increased to 3.6%.
Prime (25 to 54 Years Old) Participation
Since the overall participation rate is impacted by both cyclical (recession) and demographic (aging population, younger people staying in school) reasons, here is the employment-population ratio for the key working age group: 25 to 54 years old.
The 25 to 54 participation rate increased in February to 83.1% from 82.7% in January, and the 25 to 54 employment population ratio increased to 80.5% from 80.2% the previous month.
Average Hourly Wages
Wage growth has trended down after peaking at 5.9% YoY in March 2022 and was at 4.6% YoY in February.
From the BLS report:
“The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, at 4.1 million, was essentially unchanged in February. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.”The number of persons working part time for economic reasons increased in February to 4.067 million from 4.050 million in January. This is at pre-recession levels.
These workers are included in the alternate measure of labor underutilization (U-6) that increased to 6.8% from 6.6% in the previous month. This is down from the record high in April 22.9% and up from the lowest level on record (seasonally adjusted) in December 2022 (6.5%). (This series started in 1994). This measure is below the level in February 2020 (pre-pandemic).
Unemployed over 26 Weeks
According to the BLS, there are 1.057 million workers who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks and still want a job, down from 1.111 million the previous month.
This is at pre-pandemic levels.
The headline monthly jobs number was above expectations; however, employment for the previous two months was revised down by 34,000, combined. The headline unemployment rate increased to 3.6%.