The total number of seasonally adjusted (SA), non-farm people employed in the US in February 2017 was 145,798,000. This figure was up 235,000 month on month (0.16%) and by 2,251,000 (+1.61%) year on year. The economy continues to create strong overall job growth, averaging 187,583 jobs per month. The SA goods producing sector totaled 19,943,000 jobs in February up 0.48% m/m and by 1.33% y/y. The SA service sector totaled 125,855,000 jobs in February up 0.11% m/m and by 1.61% y/y.
Figure 1 shows the history of the total number of US workers employed in red on the left axis and the monthly change in blue on the right axis. Employment level reached a low point of 129,733,000 in February 2010. Since that time the economy has created 16,062,000 jobs to reach the current record high level of 145,798,000.
Despite the record number of folks employed, the labor participation rate remains at 62.9%, a level not seen since the late 1970’s, (Figure 2). According to analysis by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, roughly one half of the decline comes from structural/demographic factors. Significant among these are the baby boomers which are now starting to retire in large numbers. The other half of the drop came from cyclical factors tied to the Great Recession. In addition to the normal drop in participation seen in previous recessions, the depth and severity of the Great Recession sidelined millions of Americans and discouraged them from even seeking work. The recent rise in the labor-force participation rate is indicating a tightening labor market as people who were previously discouraged from looking for work move back into the labor market.
Construction employment (SA,) stood at 6,881,000, up 58,000 m/m (0.85%) and up 253,000 y/y (3.82%). Manufacturing jobs creation did not fair nearly as well as construction rising just 28,000 (0.23%) m/m and by 60,000 (0.49%) y/y to reach a total of 12,382,000 in February 2017.
At Gerdau, we keep a keen eye on the employment numbers, especially manufacturing and construction since this is where most long product steel ends-up. In addition we know that growth in net job creation correlates to increased steel consumpti