The Labor Department reported that the economy added 175,000 jobs in February with modest upward revisions to the prior two months' data. This brings the 3-month average to 129,000. While this is considerably weaker than the fall months, weather has undoubtedly played a role in slowing job creation. The mix of jobs in February was somewhat peculiar with the professional and business services category accounting for more than half of the total (79,000 jobs). This was driven in part by an unusual jump in accounting bookkeeping services of 15,700 jobs which partially offset the decline of 30,800 reported in December. Manufacturing employment has slowed to a crawl, adding 6,000 for the second consecutive month, following a 7,000 rise in December.
There was a 9 cent rise in the average hourly wage both for all workers and production non-supervisory workers. Interestingly, wages for the later group have been rising somewhat more rapidly than wages for all workers. Wages for production workers have risen 2.5 percent over the last year, compared to a 2.19 percent increase for all workers. This implies that less-educated workers seem to be doing somewhat better in the current economy, the opposite of the skills shortage view that is widely being promoted.
The unemployment rate slid up to 6.7 percent. African American men saw a jump in their unemployment rate from 12.0 percent to 12.9 percent, the same as the January 2013 level. The EPOP for African American men is now 58.0, down more than 8.0 percentage points from pre-recession peaks. These numbers are erratic, but the general trend here has not been good.
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