Private Sector Sheds Jobs for Third Consecutive Month

Jobs Byte by Dean Baker

For Immediate Release: March 7, 2008
Contact: Alan Barber, (202) 293-5380 x115

“This report leaves little doubt that the economy is in a recession."
The private sector lost 101,000 jobs in February according to the establishment survey. This loss, combined with downward revisions to job growth for the prior two months, brings the 3-month decline in private sector employment to 141,000 jobs. Overall employment fell 63,000, the second consecutive monthly decline. Consecutive months of job loss have not occurred outside of periods associated with recessions. The unemployment rate edged down slightly to 4.8 percent, as 644,000 people were reported as leaving the workforce.

The job loss was broad-based but manufacturing and construction continue to be especially hard hit, losing 52,000 and 39,000 jobs, respectively. Job loss in manufacturing was concentrated in the durable goods sector, which lost 40,000 jobs. Auto manufacturing lost 12,900 jobs in February. It has lost 75,500 jobs, or 7.4 percent of total employment, over the last year.

The job loss in construction was heaviest in the residential sector, but all sectors of construction reported job loss. This is consistent with Census data showing that non-residential construction is now declining also. Jobs in residential construction are now down by 408,000, or 11.6 percent, from their peak in February 2006. With residential construction down by almost 30 percent over this period, clearly job loss is understated in the survey, presumably because many undocumented workers were never counted.