According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percent in February, bringing it to 3.8 percent. The biggest job gains were seen in professional and business services, healthcare and wholesale trade. However, construction employment decreased, and employment in other industries had little change.
The number of long-term unemployed (those who are unemployed for half a year or longer) stayed the same at 1.3 million. Part-time employment decreased sharply as the federal workers who found temporary employment during the shutdown returned to their government jobs.
Average hourly earnings went up by 11 cents in February for all employees on private payroll. This puts the year-over-year increase of hourly earnings at 3.4 percent. Decreases in employment and increases in earnings are good signs of a strong job market as we head into the spring months.