Friday, March 07, 2008
The Labor Department released the February employment data a short time ago and, unfortunately, the jobs picture is getting much clearer.
There was a net loss of 63,000 jobs last month, the steepest decline in almost five years, along with significant downward revisions to prior month's data. December payroll growth was revised from +84,000 to +41,000 and the job loss in February increased from -17,000 to -22,000.
The steepest monthly declines were seen in the usual areas of construction and manufacturing, but there is growing weakness in retail trade within the trade, transportation, and utilities category which tumbled by 39,000 last month.
Job losses at department stores totaled 11,100 in February and, part of the continuing fallout from a deeply troubled housing market, employment at building material and garden supply stores fell by 6,800.The health care industry, restaurants, and all levels of government continue to hire. If government jobs were removed from the mix, instead of a job loss of 44,000 over the last three months, a total decline of 141,000 would result.
The unemployment rate fell from 4.9 percent to 4.8 percent as a result of 450,000 individuals leaving the labor force for one reason or another - the number of respondents reporting that they were employed during the February household survey actually fell by 257,000.