Companies Continue Adding Jobs; Unemployment Rate Unchanged

March 7, 2016 – Employers added 242,000 jobs in February as the U.S. unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. This caps 72 months of uninterrupted job gains, the longest streak on record. U.S. companies have now added 14.3 million jobs over six straight years. Currently, there are 7.8 million people unemployed in the U.S.

This is a strong jobs increase over the previous month, when businesses added 151,000 jobs in January.

“We’ve got a real strong job market going,” said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust. “It does suggest that fears about a U.S. recession have been greatly overdone.”

Job growth occurred in healthcare and social assistance, retail trade, food services, and private educational services. Mining employment continued to decline.

Here’s a closer look:

  • Healthcare and social assistance added 57,000 jobs in February. Healthcare employment increased by 38,000 over the month, with job gains in ambulatory healthcare services (+24,000) and hospitals (+11,000). Over the past 12 months, hospitals have added 181,000 jobs. In February, employment rose by 19,000 in social assistance, mostly in individual and family services (+14,000);
  • Retail trade continued to add jobs during the month. Employment rose in food and beverage stores (+15,000) and other general merchandise stores (+13,000). Retail trade has added 339,000 jobs over the past 12 months;
  • Food services added 40,000 jobs in February. Over the past year, employment in the industry has grown by 359,000;
  • Employment in private educational services rose by 28,000 during the month, after edging down by 20,000 in the prior month;
  • Construction employment continued to trend up in February (+19,000), with a gain of 14,000 in residential specialty trade contractors. Employment in construction was up by 253,000 over the past 12 months, with residential specialty trade contractors accounting for about half of the increase;
  • Employment in mining continued to decline during the month (-19,000), with job losses in support activities for mining (-16,000) and coal mining (-2,000). Since a recent peak in September 2014, mining has shed 171,000 jobs, with more than three-fourths of the loss in support activities for mining;
  • Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, professional and business services, and government, showed little change over the month.

Looking ahead, U.S. employers remain confident in their hiring plans, with 36 percent of employers planning to add full-time, permanent employees in 2016, according to CareerBuilder’s annual job forecast. Nearly half of employers (47 percent) plan to hire temporary or contract workers.

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Comparing industries, financial services (46 percent), information technology (44 percent), and healthcare (43 percent) are expected to outperform the national average for employers adding full-time staff. Manufacturing (37 percent) is expected to mirror the national average.

According to the ‘2016 Hiring Outlook: Strategies for Adapting to a Candidate-Driven Market’ report released by The Execu | Search Group66 percent of employers plan to hire additional staff this year.

With companies continuing to hire, employees have their eyes set on new positions.

Twenty-one percent of workers plan to look for new jobs in 2016, according to a new study released by Penna. Forty-eight percent of people claimed the main reason for the change was that they were searching for better pay and benefits. Another 44 percent said it was down to the promise of greater development opportunities, while 32 percent said they were simply looking for a change in career direction. Penna’s survey found that employees aged 18-24 were the most likely to be planning a move this year, while 25 percent of those aged 25-34 are considering leaving their posts.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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