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Construction employment increased by 19,000 in February, while employment in manufacturing and wholesale trade showed little change, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Overall, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 242,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9 percent.
Construction job gains in February were mainly due to residential specialty trade contractors (+14,000). 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.
Health care and social assistance added 57,000 jobs in February. Health care employment increased by 38,000 over the month, with job gains in ambulatory health care 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).
Employment in mining continued to decline in February (-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.
In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 3 cents to $25.35, following an increase of 12 cents in January. Average hourly earnings have risen by 2.2 percent over the year. In February, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees were unchanged at $21.32.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised from +262,000 to +271,000, and the change for January was revised from
+151,000 to +172,000. With these revisions, employment gains in December and January combined were 30,000 more than previously reported. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 228,000 per month.