Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release


Advance copies of this statement are made available to the press
under lock-up conditions with the explicit understanding that the
data are embargoed until 8:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
                                
                                
                          Statement of
                                
                           Keith Hall
                          Commissioner
                   Bureau of Labor Statistics
                                
                           before the

                    Joint Economic Committee
                                
                     UNITED STATES CONGRESS

                      Friday, March 7, 2008


Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

     Thank you for this opportunity to discuss the February labor
market data that we released this morning.

     Nonfarm payroll employment edged down in February (-63,000), 
and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 4.8 percent.  
Private-sector employment declined by 101,000.  Job losses occurred 
in manufacturing, construction, and retail trade.  Employment growth 
continued in health care and in food services.

     Manufacturing employment fell by 52,000 over the month.
Over the past 12 months, this industry has shed 299,000 jobs.  In
February, employment declined in motor vehicles, printing, and
semiconductors, as well as in wood products and furniture--two
housing-sensitive industries.  Factory hours and overtime were
unchanged.
     
     Elsewhere in the goods-producing sector, construction lost
39,000 jobs over the month.  Construction employment has fallen
by 331,000 since peaking in September 2006.  Over this period,
job losses were concentrated in residential building and in
residential specialty trades; employment in the nonresidential
components of construction changed little on net.
     
     In the service-providing sector, retail employment was down
by 34,000 in February.  Job losses occurred in department stores,
auto dealers, and building and garden supply stores.  Over the
past 12 months, retail employment has shown no net growth.
Within professional and business services, employment in the
temporary help industry fell by 28,000 over the month and by
117,000 since the most recent peak in December 2006.

     Health care employment continued to expand in February,
rising by 36,000.  Employment in food services continued to trend
up, although growth in this industry has slowed in the past 4
months.  Most other private service-providing industries showed
little employment change in February.

     Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory
workers in the private sector rose by 5 cents over the month and
have increased by 3.7 percent over the past 12 months.

     Turning now to the labor market data from the survey of
households, the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged over
the month at 4.8 percent.  A year earlier, the jobless rate was
4.5 percent.  Over the year, the number of unemployed persons
rose by 544,000 to 7.4 million.
     
     The increase in unemployment over the past 12 months was
concentrated among persons who lost jobs and had no expectation
of being recalled.  Since February 2007, the number of these job
losers increased by 450,000 to 2.9 million; their share of total
unemployment rose from 35.4 to 39.0 percent.  The number of
persons unemployed for other reasons, such as voluntarily leaving
a job or entering the labor market, showed little change over
this period.
     
     In terms of unemployment duration, 35.6 percent of the
unemployed had been searching for work for less than 5 weeks in
February, while 17.5 percent were still searching after 27 or
more weeks.  These proportions were little changed from a year
earlier.
     
     The number of individuals in the labor force fell by 450,000
in February to 153.4 million, and labor force participation
declined to 65.9 percent of the population.  The labor force
participation rate has been at or near 66.0 percent since last
spring.
     
     The employment-to-population ratio was 62.7 percent in
February.  This measure remains well below its recent peak of
63.4 percent in December 2006.  Among the employed, the number of
persons working part time who would prefer to be working full
time has been growing.  In February, there were 4.9 million such
workers, an increase of about 637,000 from a year earlier.
     
     Among persons not in the labor force, about 1.6 million were
marginally attached to the labor force.  The marginally attached
are individuals who are not currently looking for work, but want
and are available for work and have searched for a job sometime
in the prior 12 months.  The number of discouraged workers, a
subset of the marginally attached who believe no jobs are
available for them, was 396,000 in February, little changed from
a year earlier.

     In summary, nonfarm payroll employment edged down in
February, with job losses in manufacturing, construction, and
retail trade.  The unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at
4.8 percent.

     My colleagues and I now would be glad to answer your
questions.







Last Modified Date: March 07, 2008
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