156,949,000: Number of Employed Americans Sets 18th Record of Trump Era

By Susan Jones | March 8, 2019 | 8:40am EST
President Donald Trump speaks about bolstering American manufacturing and reducing outsourcing on March 15, 2017 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - The economy added a meager 20,000 jobs in February, well below the 180,000 that analysts were expecting, and among the lowest job-creation numbers of the Trump administration.

But the number of employed Americans grew by 255,000 in February to a record 156,949,000, the 18th record-breaker of the Trump era.

The unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 percent from last month's 4.0 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.

And the labor force participation rate stayed at last month's 63.2 percent, also a Trump-era high.

In February, the nation’s civilian noninstitutionalized population, consisting of all people age 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution, reached 258,392,000. Of those, 163,184,000 participated in the labor force by either holding a job or actively seeking one.

The 163,184,000 who participated in the labor force equaled 63.2 percent of the 258,392,000 civilian noninstitutionalized population.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.5 percent), Whites (3.3 percent), and Hispanics (4.3 percent) decreased in February. The jobless rates for adult women (3.4 percent), teenagers (13.4 percent), Blacks (7.0 percent), and Asians (3.1 percent) showed little or no change over the month.

The unemployment rate for Hispanics has never been this low. But the unemployment rate for African-American increased by two-tenths of a point in February.

Wages are heading up: In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 11 cents to $27.66, following a 2-cent gain in January. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.4 percent.

The number of Americans not in the labor force, meaning they did not have a job and were not looking for one, totaled 95,208,000 in February. This number has not changed much since Donald Trump took office, partly as a result of retiring baby boomers.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised up from +222,000 to +227,000, and the change for January was revised up from +304,000 to +311,000. After revisions, job gains have averaged 186,000 per month over the last 3 months.

The 20,000 jobs added in February is the lowest number since September 2017, when 18,000 were created.

The news pleased President Trump, who quoted Fox News's Stuart Varney in a Friday morning tweet:

In a second tweet, Trump singled out women on this International Women's Day:

The Labor Department reported last month that on-the-job training was required for 76.8 percent of all civilian workers in 2018. The average length of on-the-job training was 34 days.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told a gathering in New York eight days ago that "the economy is in a good place."

The current economic expansion has been under way for almost 10 years. This long period of growth has pushed the unemployment rate down near historic lows. The employment gains have been broad based across all racial and ethnic groups and all levels of educational attainment as well as among the disabled.

And while the unemployment rate for African Americans and Hispanics remains above the rates for whites and Asians, the disparities have narrowed appreciably as the economic expansion has continued.

Nearly all job market indicators are better than a few years ago, and many are at their most favorable levels in decades. After lagging earlier in the expansion, wages and overall compensation--pay plus benefits­­are now growing faster than a few years ago.

It is especially encouraging that the labor force participation rate of people in their prime working years, ages 25 to 54, has been rising for the past three years. More plentiful jobs and rising wages are drawing more people into the workforce and encouraging others who might have left to stay.

In addition, business-sector productivity growth, which had been disappointing during the expansion, moved up in the first three quarters of 2018. Rising productivity allows wages to increase without adding to inflation pressures. Sustained productivity growth is a necessary ingredient for longer-run improvements in living standards.

Congress has charged the Federal Reserve with achieving maximum employment and stable prices.

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