Sunday, March 7, 2010

February Employment Report

Given the fears about the impact of the blizzards that hit during the survey period (see this earlier post), the BLS estimate that unemployment held steady at 9.7% in February was good news.

Some of the other numbers from the household survey were encouraging, as both the labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio both ticked up slightly. The numbers from the establishment survey were not as positive - nonfarm payroll employment fell by 36,000, and the average workweek fell by 0.1 hours.

U.S. Unemployment Rate (Seasonally Adjusted)
On the impact of the weather, the BLS said:
In the establishment survey, the reference period was the pay period including February 12th. In order for severe weather conditions to reduce the estimate of payroll employment, employees have to be off work for an entire pay period and not be paid for the time missed. About half of all workers in the payroll survey have a 2-week, semi-monthly, or monthly pay period. Workers who received pay for any part of the reference pay period, even one hour, are counted in the February payroll employment figures. While some persons may have been off payrolls during the survey reference period, some industries, such as those dealing with cleanup and repair activities, may have added workers.

In the household survey, the reference period was the calendar week of February 7-13. People who miss work for weather-related events are counted as employed whether or not they are paid for the time off.
At Economist's View, Mark Thoma has a roundup of reactions to the BLS report.

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