Strong Jobs Report for February

By at 5 March, 2021, 10:55 am

by Raymond J. Keating-

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics latest employment report revealed strong job gains during February.

Each monthly employment report offers data from two surveys. The establishment survey offers data on nonfarm payrolls, and tends to better capture what’s happening in established businesses. Meanwhile, the household survey tends to better capture startup and small business activity, but also can be volatile month to month. Numbers such as the unemployment rate, the labor force participation rate, and the employment-population ratio come from the household survey.

According to the establishment survey, nonfarm payrolls in February grew by 379,000. And with a decline in the public sector, private payrolls jumped by 465,000. The BLS noted that “most of the job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality” – an area that has been devastated during the pandemic.

As for the household survey, it showed an employment gain of 208,000 in February, with a small tick up in the employment-population ratio from 57.5 percent in January to 57.6 percent.

Obviously, we still have a long way to go to just get back to where employment was prior to the pandemic. For example, the establishment survey’s nonfarm payrolls in February 2021 were down by 9.5 million versus a year earlier, and the household survey’s employment level was off by 8.5 million. Those are breathtaking losses.

So, looking ahead, as we work to recover 8.5 million to 9.5 million jobs, and then return to a period of expansion, February was a strong month.

We all, no doubt, want to see this turn into an accelerating trend. If so, it is critical realize that it is private-sector entrepreneurs, businesses and investors who will be driving this recovery. Therefore, every decision by policymakers at the federal, state and local levels must be seriously weighed as to whether or not it will discourage or encourage entrepreneurship and investment.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


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