Steinberg Update: February 2012 Employment Report

Bruce Steinberg provides a variety of customized products and services including a monthly measurement of IT jobs, quarterly marketing reports for a variety of clients that align their performance with sector-wide employment trends, and tools for companies to measure their operations to their local market.


Quick recap: The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3 percent in February. This was the result of the labor force growing a little faster — but not enough to move the needle — than the growth in the number of employed persons. The unemployment rate was 9.0 percent a year earlier in February 2011. See more detail under the “Household Survey” heading at the bottom of this box.

The news coming from the other side of the employment report was positive as well.

The total number of jobs rose by 227,000 in February but that was not as good as January’s growth of 284,000 and about the same as December’s 223,000. Factor out the decline of government jobs and private-sector payrolls rose by 233,000 jobs in February and again this was not as strong as January’s growth of 285,000 and essentially the same as December’s 234,000.

Jobs Report: Growth in the number of jobs in the private Goods-producing sector lost a little steam (or in today’s move to generate more solar power, perhaps we should say “lost some sunshine”?) with an increase of 24,000 in February compared to a gain of 83,000 in January and December’s growth of 62,000 due to …

• The Construction sector torn down 13,000 jobs (that is, declined) due to 15,400 Specialty trade contractors jobs falling off the ladder; Construction added 21,000 jobs in January

• Manufacturers were able to find enough new employees to fill 31,000 new jobs with Durable goods adding all of those 31,000 jobs with especially strong growth in Fabricated metal products. Much has been said about the reemergence of the American manufacturing industry and the problem employers are having finding skilled workers to fill myriad open positions. And the labor statistics seem to support this contention. In the last two years, manufacturers have added a total nearly 430,000 jobs, workers are working 1.5 more hours per weeks and putting in almost one hour per week more in overtime.

• Mining and logging continued to find new jobs — it added 6,000 in February with the vast majority of those new jobs in the Support activities for mining sub-sector.

The private Service-providing sector added 209,000 new jobs in February, which was marginally better than the 202,000 it added in January but significantly stronger than the 172,000 it added in December.

• The holiday job-hiring season was clearly over for the Retail trade sector as it rang up 7,400 job returns (decline).
• Wholesale trade grew by 8,400 jobs in February that was clearly not as strong as the 14,500 it added in January
• The Transportation and warehousing sector added 10,600 jobs in February after growth of 16,100 jobs in January.
• The Financial activities sector apparently figured out how to add jobs with an increase of 6,000 in February. Perhaps the housing market really is improving since Real estate and rental and leasing was responsible for adding 5,400 jobs.
• The Professional and business services sector added 82,000 jobs in February after growth of 76,000 jobs in January. Computer systems design and related services added 10,200 jobs in February after it declined by 1,500 jobs in January (perhaps 2012 staffing plans and strategies started to kick in?). Management and technical consulting services advised itself to add 7,400 jobs.
• The Education and health services sector added a total of 71,000 jobs in February with the highly seasonal Educational services sub-sector contributing 9,100 of those new jobs. This means that the Health care and social assistance portion was up about 62,000 jobs, with most major sub-sectors adding jobs including Home health care services that added 5,000. The only sub-sector to experience a decline was Nursing care facilities.
• The party continued in the Leisure and hospitality sector and added 44,000 jobs in February due to an especially strong showing in the Food services and drinking places sub-sector.
• The total number of Government jobs was down last month by 6,000. In February, the Federal government contracted by 7,000 jobs, State governments were down 1,000, and Local government, which had been cutting jobs, reversed direction and added 2,000 of of it in education.

Temporary Help Services Roundup

Temporary help services jobs added 45,200 jobs in February, the largest one-month increase since late 2009.

In February, Temporary help services jobs were up 1.9 percent to 2,473,600 and up 9.5 percent year-over-year. In January, THS added 32,100 jobs and was up 1.3 percent sequentially and 8.1 percent y-o-y.

Click to enlarge:

The Temporary help services sector has added about 670,000 jobs since growth restarted in September 2009.

Temporary help service’s market share, that is its portion of all jobs, was 1.86 percent in February, up from 1.83 in January; just six months ago, it was 1.76 in August 2011. It highest level was more than a decade ago when it was 2.03 percent in April 2000.

Household Survey

The February 8.3 percent unemployment rate was unchanged due to a labor force that expanded by 476,000 at the same time 428,000 more people were employed and only 48,000 more people were unemployed. And the number of people not in the labor force declined by 310,000.

The unemployment rate is the lowest its been since February 2009 when it was at that same level.

The employment-to-population ratio was 58.6, creeping up from the 58.4 in February 2011 while the labor force participation rate was 63.9 percent in February 2012 compared to 64.2 percent in February 2011. In addition, the number of discouraged workers was 1,006,000 in February 2012 and 1,020,000 in February 2011.

February 2012 Employment Report
Bruce Steinberg Report, March 9, 2012

Steinberg has been in the staffing / employment services sector for 25 years starting as a corporate communications executive for public company. He then spent eight years with the leading staffing trade association having served as its first director of research before becoming the de facto Washington DC bureau of a California-based newsletter publisher and, in addition to covering global staffing industry trends, started its research division. Realizing that there was a dearth of operational, actionable strategic planning tools based for the sector, he set out to develop them.

Today, Steinberg, who has been called “the BEST employment analyst there is” and “the ultimate ‘consultant’s consultant'”, provides a variety of customized products and services including a monthly measurement of IT jobs, quarterly marketing reports for a variety of clients that align their performance with sector-wide employment trends, and tools for companies to measure their operations to their local market.   (commentary alone that includes the chart)   (which corrects a typo that went out in the email!)
Inasmuch as there are several different definitions of “brief,” the first is obviously two paragraphs and the second is just one:

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